Travel And A Common Denominator

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10/05/2009 – Travel And A Common Denominator

On the road there are times when international travellers try and conceal their full identity for their safety and security. Working in certain parts of the world I have often done my best to not disclose that I am from the United States, working as a photojournalist I have often done my best to travel as a tourist rather than a journalist. I understand why certain travellers conceal their religion as well as other factors regarding their full identity.

Very often factors such as nationality, profession and religion are irrelevant to the purpose of a travellers journeys around the corner or around the globe, however that can not only significantly impact the potential personal safety of a traveller but also impact their ability to perform their jobs on the road. While travellers at times have the need to not disclose certain factors of their identity I have noticed one aspect some travellers often don’t conceal…

…the sports teams they support and cheer for.

While sports are not for everyone, I have found that those that support a sports team wear their teams all over the world. For the die hard fans hiding who they cheer for seems like a cardinal-sin, in fact I have met many sports fan all over the world who place the teams they cheer for ahead of their nationality and religion!

While I not a fanatical sports fan (I can’t quote stats and don’t memorize box scores) I am an extremely loyal Boston Red Sox fan. I don’t hide being a Red Sox fan, in fact I can’t hide being a Sox fan as my Pelican 1514 travel case is a covered in Red Sox stickers and I almost always wear a Red Sox hat anywhere I travel.

Coming from multiple generations of New Yorkers, having been born in New York City and being raised 19 miles from Yankees Stadium and 13 miles from Shea Stadium (now Citi Field) it was not an easy life growing up as a Boston Red Sox fan. For those of you not familiar with baseball, it has long been noted that the rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox is the longest running, and possibly the most heated, rivalry in sports history.

Anywhere in the world you can find loyal sports fans. Those who support Manchester United, New Zealand All Blacks, Hanshin Tigers, The Philadelphia Eagles, Brazil’s National Football Team, and countless other teams will wear their pride in their teams everywhere they travel.

While walking through the streets of Manama, Bahrain I stopped to chat with two Saudi men wearing Real Madrid shirts and ended up spending part of the afternoon playing a pick-up soccer/football game. Throughout the streets of Tokyo it is easy to sport baseball fans as they wear their teams with pride, both American baseball and Japanese baseball teams (some wearing both). During my last trip through Incheon I sat with a business traveller from Mumbai and we had a friendly debate over why as why he finds baseball boring and I find cricket equally as boring.

Sports tend to be the more universal common denominator than nationality, religion or anything else. No matter who you support you can find common ground between sports, between teams, and a pure belief your team is the best (unless of course you are a Detroit Lions fan, then hopefully your realistic about your team).

While I am not a sports fanatic and only regularly follow one sport, Major League Baseball, I think on some levels if we could all relate to each other in the way sports fans can relate to each other, travelling could be a more pleasant global experience.

Happy Flying…and Happy Mothers Day!


  1. Hello Fish…..I think there may be an exception to your blog post today. It seems the Irish “troubles” still simmer below the surface for many in the UK. Apparently, one of the indications of which “side” a person leans can be known by the football team he supports. People who relocate from the Irish Republic to towns and villages in the UK are often probed about which football team they support. Those who are wise keep this information to themself.

  2. Phyllis,

    There are always exceptions to the rule. The religion and politics of the Irish and the English are a unique situation, however out in the streets, away from Ireland and England you can see an Irishman and Englishman sitting side by side debating football (as I have witnessed more than once in various parts of the world).

    Hopefully this connection can spread back to the Emerald Isle.

    Happy Flying!

  3. Being from Detroit, I can say that for the most part Lions’ fans are not remotely realistic about the Lions.

  4. Donna,

    Having spent roughly six years of my career covering the NFL and another 4 working as the primary athletics photographer for an NCAA Division 1 University I would have to say I agree with your assessment.

    At least Michigan has MSU and the UofM to keep football fans happy and stadiums packed. I’ll leave out who I cheer for (Go Sparty) because its a sore subject and I don’t like to use Flying With Fish as a platform for starting arguments :0)

    Happy Flying!


    PS: U of M Athletics has actually been a client of mine, so I am very good at separating personal opinions and my job to make sure my clients come first.

  5. As retired US Air Force, my father was very careful to leave his military ID at home when he was required to travel overseas with his post-retirement corporate job. Even as a teenager, I knew it must be dangerous if he was leaving the house without that ID card.

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