How do you Define a Rivalry?

12 Dec

Over the weekend, we tuned into El Clásico – the match up of the two La Liga (Spanish League) sides Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

It’s the only La Liga match that I regularly watch – I follow the English Premier League week-to-week and watch some of the UEFA Champions League matches as well.

One of the ideas I’ve tried to explain to my kids is the idea of rivalries in sports.  As residents of Georgia though, most of the big rivalries we see are on the College Football field – with Georgia Tech versus Georgia being the biggest in our state (and important to our family).

But the question I still struggle with explaining to my sons is what makes a rivalry game, or why they are rivals.

I’ve tried to explain to them the normal dimensions of a rivalry game (or derby if you are discussing English football):

  1. Geographic proximity – two teams sharing a common state or city.
  2. Close competition between the two teams – This would explain games like Clemson versus Georgia Tech which usually end in a difference of 3 points or so.

But I’ve struggled to explain the component of “Us versus Them” or affinity within the fans that makes the rivalry more interesting.


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