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Like most of you, I'm spending some time these days watching the Olympics. It's especially fun to see more obscure sports like fencing, table tennis and beach volleyball get their moments in the sun, and there are always a few upsets and feel-good stories to keep us riveted. And for the record, I thought that utterly wacky opening ceremony was flat-out brilliant. But given my day job, I can't help but see the Olympics as a sublimely teachable moment about nationalism. Every Olympic year I ask my students who they barracked for, and whether they got a subtle thrill when one of their countrymen won. Are they disappointed when one of their fellow nationals loses out? Of course, the vast majority of students admit that they tend to do just that, and I'll confess to similar instincts myself. But the next question I ask them is, ''Why? Why do you care? Is it because you know the actual people involved?'' Of course not.


Walt, Stephen. "Games Bring Out National Uber Pride." Canberra Times, August 6, 2012.