Monday, February 20, 2012

What Makes a Rival?

The sports world is fueled by rivalry. Sure, there are plenty of other reasons people follow sports, but rivalries are what really make them interesting. And once enshrined, rivalries are often desperately clung to -- witness the upheaval over college football realignment.

But how do rivalries become enshrined? And what makes for a rivalry? Some come about naturally, like the Vikings and Packers. As everyone knows, 'Sconnies make for the natural enemy of the Minnesotan. It's like a mongoose-snake thing.

But some come about through a shared history of hatred and contempt, like the Twins and the White Sox. There's nothing about the match-up that really makes for a natural rivalry; there's no history of competition between Minneapolis and Chicago (Vikings-Bears is no big deal), the White Sox have been around a lot longer, so it's not like there's some crazy-long shared history.

Rather, the Twins and Sox rivalry seems to have come about mostly in the last two decades or so, especially the last 10 years in which the Twins have come back to relevance. Since I've been living in Minnesota, it's become one of the preeminent local rivalries, ranking right up there with Pack-Vikings in terms of hatred, invectives, and calendar-circling games.

And if you need any further proof the Twins and White Sox are rivals of the highest order, it's now a matter of legal precedence. Not sure how many rivalries, no matter how heated they may be, can claim that...

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