Louis Menand ponders the cultural significance of the Olympics:
Modern societies are still obsessed with these secular rituals, in part because almost all of them have become successfully commercialized. Maybe they offer an illusion of permanence and continuity in a world characterized mainly by mobility, change, and uncertainty. No matter what happens to us next year, there will be a Super Bowl. Or maybe they feed our tribal instincts, stimulate the irrational basis of loyalty to our community or our country. Even the most cosmopolitan American viewer of the Olympics has a hard time not rooting for the American. If you watch, you don’t just want to see how it comes out. You care who wins.
On a related note, Eliza Williams praises Errol Morris' new ESPN documentary on fan devotion:
The film, titled Team Spirit, features friends, family, tombstone makers and undertakers talking about real fans who requested that their fandom be reflected in their funerals, alongside one living fan who discusses plans of what she'd like when she dies. Morris tackles what could be a sad or potentially mawkish subject with a sensitive and confident hand, creating a film that is full of fascinating stories of the lengths that people will go to for the love of sport.
A portion of film is seen above.