February 21, 2009
There’s inevitably a soccer game playing on a television when I enter a taquería. I know nothing about soccer in general nor about these Latin American teams specifically. They’re just the Blue Team and the Yellow Team to me. The names of the towns or countries aren’t even displayed.
Yet I’m instantly rooting for one team. Ten minutes later, eating my carnitas burrito and staring at that TV, I’m still rooting for the same team and pleased when they score.
This has happened to me for years and I’ve always wondered on what basis I chose my preferred team. I thought maybe it was the jersey color, but I eventually ruled that out because I couldn’t see a pattern. Same with direction of play. I then thought that it was the stronger team, but I noticed that my opinion was made long before I could establish which team was stronger.
I eventually came to the conclusion that I preferred whichever team had possession of the ball when I first laid my eyes on the screen. This is so bizarre and unintellectual that it must be instinctive. Perhaps, when barging in to a conflict, it’s best to immediately side with whoever happens to have the upper hand.
If true, this has significance in other matters, like debates and discussions. People don’t like to change their mind about who they’re rooting for. It makes them feel like they made a mistake. They’ll stick to their favorite side until the pressure to switch overwhelms them. So if you’re debating someone and you don’t think you have a much stronger argument, just make sure you have the upper hand when people first walk in. They’ll side with you and their preference will stick.