Whether in the sports world or on the big screen, everyone loves a hometown hero. But is Hawaii’s obsession as fans with their own a little too overboard?
In a conversation with a friend from the mainland, he told me that he had a difficult time understanding Hawaii’s “homerism” particularly in the sports world. During the 2018 National Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia the Crimson Tide was down 13-0. Enter Hawaii native Tua Tagovailoa in the 3rd quarter. The true freshman QB throws 3TDs and Alabama comes back to win the championship.
My friend tells me that he was at a bar watching the game.
“Most of the bar were Georgia fans when the game started. They were loud and cheering against Alabama. Tua comes in and the whole bar suddenly becomes Alabama fans1 What’s up with that? Is there no loyalty?”
“On the contrary, my good friend, it’s all loyalty,” I told him.
He responded that while he loves a hometown hero, he’d never go so far as to switch sides halfway through a game. It was then that I realized how different we are in Hawaii. But why is it? Why are we so “hardcore” when it comes to rooting for our own?
Jason Momoa isn’t even from Hawaii, but we love to claim him as ours (and he claims us too 😊).
Former President Barrack Obama claims Chicago as his home and says that his time in Hawaii was rough.
Ahhh, we no care, he’s a Hawaii boy to us.
And don’t you dare say anything against Bruno Mars. You got a problem with Bruno, you got a problem with all of us.
I even watched a whole season of The Great Food Truck Race because there was a Hawaii food truck on it. If you haven’t seen it, you must watch it. It got to the point where one of the competing food trucks literally said, “everywhere Aloha Plate (the Hawaii food truck) shows up, hundreds of Hawaiians show up.”
When the Aloha Plate food truck showed up in Chicago, it was a big Hoʻolauleʻa. They had hula dancers and Hawaiian musicians with hundreds of people lining the street. All in support of a food truck.
So why do we go overboard supporting, cheering for, and in some cases protecting, our Hawaii Stars?
For me, it’s easy. It’s because we embrace each other like family.
Have you ever been to the mainland and then run into someone from Hawaiʻi? It’s like a family reunion, isn’t it? That’s what is hard for others to understand. The way we embrace each other. How we open our circle so effortlessly for our own. When you come from a group of tiny islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, all you have is each other. In some circles we endearingly call our circle…the village.
On the national and world stage, Hawaii is the underdog. We’ve always been the underdog. People love an underdog. And we love being in that role. We love overcoming the odds, having to work much harder to get noticed. That’s why we cheer so much harder and we protect so much more passionately because we understand the grind. Sure, all the stars grind to get to where they’re at. They go through the early mornings and late nights. They put the right food into their bodies. They go on long bus rides or drive in their car for hours upon hours. They work and work and work.
But there’s something about dealing with all that ocean in between us and where the dream lies that puts our stars on another level for us. Talent agents never came here. Sports scouts never used to come here. When looking for talent, Hawai’i was never on the itinerary to come and look for it.
But they’re coming now. The secret’s out.
So mahalo Kolten Wong.
Mahalo Auli’i Cravalho.
Mahalo Marcus Mariota.
Mahalo to all who have overcome and persevered to show the world the amazing talent that Hawaii has to offer.
The future is looking bright for our next generation and we have a bunch of Hawaii Stars to thank for it.