Not Our Rival: Why Too Many Rivalries Aren't Actually Rivalries

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Every team wants a rival.

Every team and fan wants an opponent that instills a respected hatred.  That's what a rivalry comes down to, hate and respect.

The problem with some people in the sports world is that rivalries are trying to be pushed upon us instead of letting them form.  Rivalries aren't just created from annually scheduled games between two opponents; they aren't set in stone after one close affair.  Rivalries take years to form and a lifetime to be dismantled.  Once they are there, they can almost never be taken away.

Tonight Duke squares off against Maryland at the Comcast Center in College Park, MD in a match up that some would like to describe as a rivalry.

Sorry Maryland.  You are not our rival.Rival

I'm a die hard Duke fan.  A few of you will love me for it, others may despise me because of it.  No matter how many close games we have with Maryland (there hasn't been that many lately) or how many times we play them each year, they will never be our rival.  Only UNC can take that name plate.

Even with UNC having a down year, Duke fans still respect UNC and are nervous every time we have to play them.  The game still means more then any regular season game on the schedule.  Losing means grief, winning means euphoria.  That's what a rivalry is all about.

Basketball seems to form rivalries much easier then football does.  Teams play multiple times every year and conference tournaments provide some great moments that really catapult some rivalries into existence.

College football is much different.  What's the last great new rivalry in college football?  Penn State/Ohio State maybe?   I can't really think of any others.

The Big Ten is looking to expand with a twelfth team to hopefully create two divisions and a conference championship game.  I'm telling you right now, whomever that new team is, will be hyped up by the media and a rivalry attempt will try to be instilled immediately.  There will be story lines created, history and traditions will be mentioned, and anything else that can be used to materialize the rivalry will be used.  There will be no rivalry though.

Lets stop trying to create rivalries for every team at every occasion possible and turn big games into something they aren't.  Rivalries are special for a reason, lets keep it that way.

So sorry Maryland, you can't manufacture a rivalry with us.  You can however compete in a big time conference match up that still has meaning, just not the meaning you're looking for. Maybe someday in twenty years or so we will think differently.

I highly doubt it though.

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