Cheering Like A Local:
How Sport Has Become My Number One Travel Companion
Guest writer: Jillian Fisher, Sports Anthropologist
Jillian Fisher is an anthropologist and sports fan hailing from Philadelphia, USA. Throughout her travels, she seeks to learn the ways sports shape each culture, bringing people together in victory or defeat.
If SportsHosts was a person, it would be Jillian! She travels around meeting sports fans from all different cities, exploring exactly what it is their teams mean to them.
Some people like tasting the local cuisine. Others like to check out the museums and attractions. Me? I prefer to experience the local sport. Which includes meeting the locals, participating in their traditions, and of course enjoying the local food.
I’ve been a sports fan my whole life. I grew up both playing and watching; with three older brothers, sport was the common language between us. While I enjoyed the traditional media coverage, I always felt something was missing. Who were the people in the stands? The people like me, who invested their time, energy, money, and sometimes their sanity into cheering for the home team.
I have dedicated my young professional career as a cultural anthropologist into exploring this area, and have found it not only to be the best way to explore a new culture, but also to meet new people and learn about the world. I love that feeling of goosebumps I get every time I hear the crowd go wild. This isn’t just like a travel blog about “what to see” and “what to do.” Yes, it does include some of that, but it is more about the people, what that team means to them, and how they feel their team represents their city and values.
Sports, in terms of rooting for the home team, are more than just that. It has a large impact (in fact, a much larger impact than most realize) on local culture. When people pick their favorite players, they generally are described in terms a fan feels represents them and what they hold to be true. For example, I am from Philadelphia. All of the fan favorites in Philly usually are described as “gritty, hard working, not too flashy.” Which, could also be a way you describe the Philly itself. People like to cheer for what they believe is an accurate and positive reflection of themselves.
Even though a city may be bigger than just its teams, a local team does become a part of that city’s identity. They start to shape their region and at the same time reflect the city that loves them. Traditions begin to take shape. One kid grew up going to Sunday tailgates with her dad. She watched her dad grill and entertain friends and family. There are now so many memories from those games, and now she has the same tradition with her children. Additionally, great moments in sport history tie generations together while new legends, stories, and traditions are created every day. It’s not just the team, it’s what happens to and with the people outside the stadium. Certainly, everyone can remember where they were, who they were with, and what they were doing when certain events happened or when their team wins a championship.
The best part is people are genuinely excited to talk to you about their team, their home, and their passions. People love to share with you what makes them so proud, and it allows for an easy connection. Everywhere you go, people speak the language of sports. Albeit, each place has their unique dialect. Even if you don’t speak it, they want you to be a part of it. They want you to see and feel why they love it.
So, as I scroll through my messages on my phone and see it filled with people I’ve met in my travels over the past few years, I am reminded of the power of sport. From major league games to small local tournaments, I have met people from various walks of life, and despite our differences have forged powerful friendships all while cheering for the home team. I have yet to find something like sport that encompasses so much of what we love about travel.
For a much more comprehensive guide to finding the cheapest and best tickets around the world, we’ve compiled even more tips, a world calendar of major sports, ticketing website info and a cost comparison for major sports globally.
Definitely worth a read to save yourself some time and travel money!