#2) The Rivalries – Where to start, where to start. There are so many rivalries in the world of sports that I'm not going to be able to put them all here. Let’s try it anyways.
Slater v Irons, USA v Mexico, Affirmed v Alydar, Australia v New Zealand, Gatti v Ward, Rice v Sanders, Schwarzenegger v Oliva, Leonard v Duran, Woods v Mickelson, Busch v Johnson, Williams v DiMaggio, Brazil v Argentina, Sampras v Agassi, Canadiens v Leafs, Army v Navy, Hogan v Snead, Earnhardt v Waltrip, Navratilova v Evert, India v Pakistan, Yarborough v Allison, Ravens v Steelers, Chamberlain v Russell, Manchester United v Liverpool. Phew! Still with me? Hagen v Jones, Edwards v Keselowski, Bird v Johnson, Federer v Nadal, Duke v North Carolina, Real Madrid v Barcelona, Manning v Brady, Texas v Oklahoma, Canadiens v Bruins, Packers v Bears, Andretti v Foyt, Tennessee v UConn, Giants v Dodgers, Auburn v Alabama, Red Wings v Blackhawks, Celtics v Lakers, Nicklaus v Palmer, Redskins v Cowboys, Yankees v Red Sox, Frazier v Ali. And of course the Grrreatest rivalry in ALL of sports, Ohio State v TTUN. I’ll be frank, I did forget about the rivalry with the most relish, Kobayashi v Chestnut.
There they are. I went through ten different lists of greatest rivalries in sports and I have the majority above. I want to make it clear though; it’s not the names that make the rivalry, it’s the actions. A storming of the mound could have started it or maybe a coach crossing lines. Maybe it’s just because two teams are in the same state or city even and they want to prove who the best is. Two teams meet year in and year out in the playoffs or championship and a rivalry is born. The best faces the best. All those things are what creates a rivalry. And don’t we just absolutely freaking love it as sports fans. I mean, come on. Would we even care if rivalries didn’t exist? Of course! Rivalries will always exist and we will always love them.
There is certain aspects of a rivalry that we love to see though. The hard fought game between a contender and a pretender, that is only a close game because it’s a rivalry. Team A comes in the clear favorite. Team B comes in as mediocre. It’s all thrown off the table. Once that game starts, those athletes are the best in the world and they are there to prove it. Team A wins a championship. It’s only loss? Team B was the champion that day. That is a rivalry. Perennial powers face off more than it was thought possible. They don’t like each other because no one likes the opposing team. The thing that makes it special though is the game within the game. A trash talker, a dirty play, some show boating. The next game comes along and the feud continues. All of a sudden, someone realizes something. Maybe a reporter, a columnist, an owner, a fan, or a coach or player. Those two teams? They just started a rivalry.
Why is a rivalry important though? It makes that game so much better. It gives TV stations more money and the commentators more to talk about. It shows that no team is invincible. So whether you like the origins of your favorite rivalry or not, continue to root for your team. Continue to hope and pray that this year, your team comes out on top over the bitter rivals. While you’re at it, eat that soggy hot dog and wear that everlasting jersey. And always remember: when facing a rival, they are the enemy and you win at all costs.
Check in tomorrow for #1.