National identity is a debatable issue in most modern countries since there is no single ethnic country but more than four fifth countries all over the world consist of multi-ethnic groups, as Jiang (1997) argued. Therefore it is rather difficult to define a common point of a modern country. The multi-ethnic communities also cause conflicts within a society. However sports events often provide a channel to solidify citizens in a country, like the World Cup fever. At times sports affiliation also becomes a symbol of the country, such as football in the UK. Yet sometimes it leads debate on race and ethnicity. For example, the Tebbitt speaking, “A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?” Taiwan is experiencing the ethnic conflict and sports affiliations and fandom provide a platform for consolidation and sometimes these become problems as well. This essay will start from the meaning of personal identity in order to establish a base for the discussion of national identity, and then introduce functions of sporting affiliations and fandom and how these functions contribute to the identity. Lastly it will draw attention to Taiwan for the purpose of evaluating the importance of sporting affiliation and fandom in Taiwan.
It is worth to take a deep view of the meaning of identity in order to discover the relation between national identity and sporting affiliation. Identity in general terms means the collective aspect of the set of traits by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known. As Perry (2002) argued, “there are two methods to identify the identity of one thing. One is the notion of a statement of identity (absolute identity) as opposed to a resemblance or common property statement (relative identity.).......... On the one hand, it is a universal notion; any entity, of any kind, of any category, a snail or a number, is identical with itself. On the other hand, there seems to be a family of empirical relations that we call ‘identity,’ the determination of which may take careful and painstaking investigation.” The statement demonstrates a frame of an identity requires not only the meaning of the entity oneself but also requires understanding the content of others for constructing a character in terms of relation. Simultaneously, different stratum of identities influences mutually due to the need of relative identity. Therefore it is necessary to treat the notion of the identity from personal prior to national for a clearer understanding of the importance of national identity to citizens.
1.1 Personal identity
There are a variety of theories regarding personal identity as Perry (2002) argued. To begin with, there is a classical question: ‘Who I am.’ As Mathews (2000) demonstrated, ‘identity is as the ongoing sense the self has of who it is, as conditioned through its ongoing interactions with others. Identity is how the self conceives of itself and labels itself.’ It can be assumed that people identify personal entities from variety of instruments i.e. name, appearance, behaviour etc. These instruments are labels on people for others to memorize and recall easily. Yet without the relationship these instruments are only phrases. For example, anyone can name as Rose or Jack, however in the film ‘Titanic’ the romantic story gave these two characters a unique image to the audience. This image was constructed through the two-hour experience. According to Perry (2002) cited Locke (1694) defined personal identity in terms of memory. Therefore even though they were virtual roles, the personal identity of Rose and Jack were formed.
1.2 Social and national identity
The notion of how to construct personal identity depends on the relation with others significantly. It is called collective identity, as Mathews (2000) announced,...