The True Measure of a Rivalry

Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs fans divide in the stands during the first quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

How do you measure the intensity of a rivalry: history, importance of the game, amount of games played, geography, the passion of the fan bases, trees killed, brawls, police presence, alcohol consumption?

There is more than enough criteria to choose from in college football.  Playing in the SEC makes the stakes of a rivalry game that much higher. There are few things more painful than losing to a true rival. Winning means a year of taunting and gloating until your voice is sore and then, of course, switching to texts and social media. Losing means 365 days of sulking and harassment from fans far less classy than yourself.

The subject of rivalry came up at a recent tailgate, specifically the benefits and drawbacks of Florida’s current rivals, here is the summary of our scientific findings:

LSU, “I’m on Bourbon Street but they smell like corn dogs.”

UT, “Look there’s a puppy! Why am I surrounded by traffic cones that hate me?”,

Alabama, “These people would benefit the entire planet if they lived in holes in the ground, ate dirt and talked to no one ever. I do like elephants though.

UGA, “I’m too drunk to taste this chicken.” (It’s the Cocktail Party).

FSU- “Talla-nasty, enough said. Why do so many dress like cowboys if they’re named for an Indian tribe? They know less about history than they do about football.”

Then there was the discussion about UF’s remaining brutal schedule. Here are the highlights, (translated from a drunken stream of consciousness):

Tennessee is tied with Georgia but who do we want to win? Rooting for either seems wrong; UGA has the easier schedule so I think I should cheer for the Vols (note: multiple people threw up in their mouths after saying this). Georgia, UF and South Carolina are all undefeated in the East. But, cheering for Tennessee is simply wrong, like on a molecular level (or something) and because of some glaring omission in the rules both teams can’t lose. WHY CAN’T THEY BOTH LOSE? And what about the remainder of the schedule? If we had to lose two games which ones would they be? Which teams would I prefer for the Gators to beat and which teams could I accept losing to without bathing in malt liquor?

And then we all funneled beer.

Rivalries affect much more than just the current season and whether, or not, it’s you or your friend who ends up with a bikini wax (note: never EVER make this bet). They have a profound effect on our personal relationships. Beginning from which side gets to give or must receive relentless harassment for an entire year, to how we interact with friends and coworkers, to whom it is acceptable to date and/or get to know biblically.

Now, on the surface judging someone so harshly based on their football allegiance seems petty and irrelevant, and somehow vaguely racist…

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However, I always greet fans of certain teams with contempt and skepticism, as if they are spies, until I can interrogate them (the usual method is waterboarding, but with whiskey instead of water so everyone wins), at which point I will look at them differently because they will be incapacitated. My outlook, however will not have changed. If you don’t believe me then watch this clip, which makes just about everyone sick and I’m not a fan of either team (warning: this is painful to watch):

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The simple fact is that we love to hate. It’s the hate that makes the wins so memorable and the losses the aching, throbbing, like sore spots forever burned into your heart.  It’s the hate that makes college football games so much fun (if you don’t believe me, check out Gamedayr’s most popular section, the Haterade Cooler). Your team is the good and virtuous hero while the other team is full of Neo-Nazi thugs (bad guys). I’ve been thoroughly convinced that at least 3 rival coaches come from the netherworld:

  1. Bobby Bowden- his “Dadgummit’s” didn’t fool me. He sold his soul or the careers of his sons for that 12 year run.
  2. Les Miles- no one is that lucky and it’s impossible to dribble a football.
  3. Nick Saban- Definitely right about this one. The incarnation of evil on Earth. Who doubts he spends most of his time in a temple of unfathomable evil sacrificing woodland creatures for wins and recruits?

College football wouldn’t be as much fun as it is without the contempt and disdain rivals have for one another. I view the other fanbases as classless vermin, the players as crooks and cheats, and the coaches as win-at-all-cost, over-priced and over glorified egomaniacs.  At the same time I soak up the hate from other schools like a sea sponge; the insults, the taunts, the beers thrown at me.  If you have hate in your heart, let it out, but do so with passion and respect for your fellow fan.  Oh, and stop telling me how well you know my mother.

More Rivalies >> History of the Red River Rivalry, Texas vs. Oklahoma (VIDEO)