Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Allegiance to Places and Teams Intertwined

I have a vivid 1957 or early 1958 memory... during recess on a bright sunshiny Rocky Mountain Idaho winter along the North Fork of the Snake River. Five nine-year-old boys stomping out a circle in the snow for some type of tag.

A spirited discussion ensued about whether one was a Yankee or Dodger fan. For boys that age, inspiration came from names like Mantle, Larson, Berra, Ford and Slaughter (who ironically is from Roxboro just north of Durham) or Hodges, Newcombe, Koufax and Campanella. The two teams had been rivals and the players our heroes all of our lives; we were often listening to World Series games on the radio as we worked on our respective ranches.

But the Dodgers had just moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. While we were proud the Far West finally had a MLB team, those of us who were Yankee fans couldn't fathom the move, and the two who were Dodger fans converted to the Yankees. I believe now our allegiance was as much to place as team. The two were intertwined.

Thus is the dynamic that mystifies many. Durham is a place that inspires strong allegiances. A Durham organization holding its golf tournament in Raleigh is about to learn what that means the hard way.

While often dismissed by major corporations, it can be argued that place brands... brands formed around the identity of cities, towns, counties, states, provinces and countries... are among the most enduring of all time.

By the way, I'm still a Yankee fan. But my allegiance to the Baltimore Colts stayed with Baltimore when the Colts moved to another city many years ago.

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