‘Jerry Before Seinfeld’, On The Empty Concept Of Teams

In the stand-up comedy routine of ‘Jerry Before Seinfeld’, he told this joke — ‘This whole concept of the team [in competitive sports] — your team, my team… Really? Is It our team? Who are these guys? Where are they from? They’re not from around here. They’re just paid to wear those clothes. The uniform is the only constant in the sport. The guys are moving around different teams, [and] teams are moving from different towns.

We’re really just rooting for our clothes to defeat the clothes from the team of the other city. That’s what sports is. We are rooting for laundry and nothing else. I always find it weird how upset we get when a guy leaves your team and then he plays against your team. “Different shirt! I hate this guy! I can’t believe he’s wearing that shirt!” Mean time, everyone you see every day is wearing a different shirt. You don’t get upset with them for some reason.’

Although sharing his wit, Seinfeld offered some wise food for thought too, on the ambiguous nature of identity… and the Three Universal Characteristics of impermanence (of teams), suffering (from team-rooting), and non-self (of teams), though perhaps ‘accidentally’ on the trio. For reflection… [1] What makes a player of your preferred team (or tribe) in your city (or country)? [2] Should s/he be from where you are, or simply be where you are? [3] What about a foreign player, or a new citizen?

[4] Is a paid player more official or less loyal than a volunteer player? [5] How do you be loyal to a team if its players are not? [6] What really makes a team a team? Is it the constants, such as the uniform with the team’s name? But surely, a team is not a mere static label? If a team is then its non-constant players, how can the team itself have any essential constant? [7] How many players can be changed without changing the ‘essence’ of the team?

[8] If only labels on clothes are being supported, not so much a fixed person, team or city, does such support make any sense? [9] If players who change in body and mind despite being on the same team, how can even loyal ones be constant? [10] Are we not all on different teams now since we dress differently? But if we dress the same in a non-team context, would we not more likely become irritated or embarrassed, at someone being on ‘our team’?

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