Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I might be biased

Last year, one of my friends attended a Kpop concert in which she was immediately asked by some very eager and excited girls, "Who's your bias?"

It's a funny question but one that makes sense.  Essentially, which group are you most here to see?  Which person in that group is the one that keeps you interested?  For a culture like Kpop in which there are literally hundreds of bands with similar music styles, a bias is what draws you to one band over the other.  Further, within a band of boys (or girls), having a bias helps you start to distinguish the members from each other.  Otherwise it's just a mass of all similar looking boys (or girls) who change their hair color and clothes every thirty seconds.

Picking a bias is always kind of a random thing for me but, for some reason, they usually stick.  My bias within Shinee?  Onew, all the way.  Why?  I have absolutely no idea.  I mean, there are lots of great things about him: he's smart and witty and he doesn't mind making mistakes; he also takes his career in stride and knows when to take something seriously and when not to.  But why I chose him over Jonghyun, Minho, Taemin or Key who all have pretty impressive qualities themselves is not anything that I can really put my finger on.  (Although I do like awkward people and I'm not sure anything quite beats the Onew Condition when it comes to awkward)

A bias is also kind of a funny thing because it can have little to do with actual musical tastes.  For example, my favorite Korean band is CNBlue but I don't know much about the band itself other than genuine appreciation for their music.  In this way, they work like an American band.  I love their music, own their albums, listen to it in the car and sing along but for the most part, I don't spend my free time looking them up.  A bias on the other hand - it could be the most inane article on some random kpop website and suddenly I'm convinced, "I need to read this and find out if Onew really does insist on having pink sprinkles on his ice cream cones."  (Not a real story but if it were, you can bet I probably read it)

All of this is just to give you a glimpse at the power of a bias in my funny little life.  Of course, everyone really knows that my biggest bias is none other than Makoto Hasebe.  I first noticed him during the World Cup but how I noticed him is a mystery to even myself.

No matter, just like with a Kpop bias, this bias gave me a team to cheer for and a player to watch.  Soon enough, the rest of the team became familiar to me.  Before I knew it, I suddenly had a favorite team in the Bundesliga as well.

On Friday, I had the rare occurrence of watching Hasebe play (via ESPN3).  Since the World Cup, I can count the number of times I've watched Hasebe play on one hand.  While I settled into the game, I couldn't help but smile as I watched him move around the field and interact with his teammates; I was reminded all over again why this kid first caught my eye.  I like to think that, despite my bias, I am still pretty fair in my assessment.  I don't have any illusions that Hasebe is the best player in the Bundesliga or even the best player on his team.  I've read enough reports on him to know that although a good technical player with good dribbling and ball handling skills, he is slow for a midfielder and he sometimes struggles to attack and push the game up field.  However, on Friday, as I watched I felt that I was competently gauging that he was playing a good game.  He was aggressively moving the play forward but also solidly proved to be where he needed to be in his position as defensive midfielder.  Yet, when the second half of the game started, Hasebe was promptly subbed out of the game.
I stared at the screen in shock.  Had my bias really affected my judgment so much?

The answer is Yes.  But not for the reasons you think.  I went back and rewatched the game.  Hasebe did play a solid game.  It wasn't error free but, then again, no one was.

So, here's really how my bias affected me:  I spent part of my Friday watching a soccer game.  I spent part of my weekend on and off thinking about that soccer game and my assessment of it.  I spent part of my Tuesday rewatching that soccer game.  In short: I am a soccer fan.

This from the girl who dreamed about (American) football in middle school, the girl who played rugby in college and the girl who never bothered to find the time to sit down and just watch sports.

So, how is it that I now schedule time and energy dedicated to the "beautiful game"?

Well, like I said, a bias can be a funny thing.

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