Anatomy of the Rivalry

Oct 212004
Authors: Preston Cagle

Yankees vs. Red Sox, Broncos vs. Raiders, Duke vs. North

Carolina, Michigan vs. Ohio State. They play for things like a

golden boot, or a little brown jug, but most of all they battle for

respect and bragging rights. No matter who they are or where they

play, the rivalry game is arguably the most exciting and important

game a team plays all year – not just for the players, but for the

fans as well.

Terms like arch-rival, enemy and hatred put focus on the

intensity of these battles, but no words can describe the raw

emotion that pours forth once the game commences. Teams put their

hearts and sometimes seasons on the line, and the effort and

emotions that play out during these games leave the players

drained, but the only way they will leave is on a cart or when it

is over.

“It just kind of builds up all week,” said Wyoming captain,

senior center Trenton Franz, a Fort Collins native, on the Joe

Glenn Show Tuesday. “Practice is a lot more intense, and then that

first play just kind of explodes and it is just a blur.”

These games, which over the years turn into wars, are usually

dictated by geography and the proximity of the two schools that

play every year for the pride of the region. Only a few miles on

Tobacco Road separate Duke and Carolina, but intra-state rivalries

thrive in nearly every state, none bearing a more appropriate name

than the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State.

“The emotions are riding high,” said senior H-back Joel Dreessen

Wednesday after practice. “All the alumni start coming out and

telling you the history of this game. We’re ready to go. If we ever

wanted to beat a team, it’s Wyoming. They are seventy miles north

of us and it’s bragging rights for a year.”

These intense rivalries can also spring from two teams who

always end up playing in big games year after year, usually within

their own division or conference. Michigan and Ohio State play

every year in conference and it is usually to see who will go to

the Rose Bowl. Texas and Oklahoma have met every year for the last

99 years and it usually determines their division, and the Yanks

and Sox just completed one of the most historic post-season series

in history.

The intensity overflows from the teams to the fans easily in

these games. In the intra-state rivalries, it is brother vs.

brother and father vs. son, families torn by the mere fact that a

game is being played. The fans compete to see whose home field is

louder, more of an advantage, and to see who can be more vile to

the opposing team and take the opponent out of their game.

“The fans definitely compare. I think our fans are better than

most, because they are not as dirty as a lot of teams we go in and

play,” said junior quarterback Justin Holland. “For a stadium that

only seats 35,000, it gets pretty loud in there.”

For a day, for a weekend, or just for a three-day, mid-week

series during the regular season, there are towns, schools and

throngs of fans scattered around the country that will live and die

on every play of a game. Teams as well as fans live in the

excitement of victory and agonize in the pain of defeat, and the

only thing keeping them going is knowing there will be a next


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