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Best rivalry in all of sports is…?

March 10, 2009

As I woke up this morning, I realized that UNC and Duke would be facing off at 4pm eastern.  Immediately, I was ready to seize the day.  Being a diehard Yankees fan, you would think that I would consider the Yankees and Red Sox to be the best rivalry in sports.  However, you have to put the battle of Tobacco road on an even playing field.  The North Carolina Tar Heels, and the Duke Blue Devils are separated by only 8 miles.  Being two of the biggest powerhouses in college basketball every year, enhances their heated rivalry even more.  These two teams are a perfect fit for each other.  Royal blue vs Tar Heel blue.  Yes there is actually a shade of blue called tar heel.  North Carolina is a state that eats, sleeps, and breaths basketball.  Michael Jordan is from the state, and definitely helped brew the rivalry to what it is today.  

             When looking at rivalries, you have to look at an outsider perspective.  How much nationwide interest does the rivalry attract?  Is there a larger % of Americans infatuated by the Duke-UNC rivalry, or the Yankees and Red Sox hatred for one another?  A rivalry is legendary when it exists as an intra state matchup, but yet it is a national televised game, and buzz is created before the season begins.  The Yankees and Red Sox don’t play 8 miles from each other, but it seems as though they are closer.  Baseball revolves around this intense matchup every season.  More times than not the two teams are the best in all of baseball.  The Yankees have 26 championships, but the Red Sox have 2 since post 2000, and the Yankees have 0.  The curse of the bambino is in the distant past, and the playing field has evened out.  

           Comparing a college basketball rivalry with a major league baseball rivalry is very difficult.  Different dynamics go into each situation.  College players and professional players have a complete different view of their respective game.  College sports are about unity, integrity, and love of the game.  Professional athletes are considered businessmen as much as athletes.  Their jobs are to entertain the masses, and they get paid handsomely to do so.  The beauty of a rivalry is the fact that it comes down to passion and heart.  In the heat of the moment, dollar amounts are forgotten about, and the pure satisfaction of beating a bitter rival outweighs all the negative aspects that a professional sport brings to the table.  Greed is alleviated when a game is on the line, against a team that you hate most.  Sure, Alex Rodriguez gets paid 25 million dollars a year, but do you think in the 9th inning with 2 outs and the bases loaded, down by 2 runs to the arch nemeses, Boston Red Sox, he is thinking dollar signs?  Professional athletes have reached the top level in sports because of their combined athletic ability and competitive nature.  

      I am going to give a tie to both rivalries, as they are both so respective in their own sports, they deserve their own categories.  There are other rivalries that could be considered just as big as the other two.  To name a few, Ali Frasier fights were always classics, Chamberlain vs Russell, Bird vs Magic, in college, and than in the NBA for so many years.  On that note, the Celtics and Lakers rivalry is near the top of the sports mecca.    It is very hard to determine the best rivalry in sports, because everybody is biased based on where they live, and who their favorite teams are.  However, the best rivalries in each category are as follows:

Major League Baseball:  Yankees- Red Sox

National Basketball Association:  Lakers-Celtics

National Football League:  2000s- Patriots- Colts,  1990s- Cowboys-49ers,

College Football: Michigan- Ohio State, Texas-Oklahoma

Men’s college basketball:  North Carolina- Duke

National Hockey League:  Red Wings- Blackhawks, Rangers-Islanders, Canadians-Maple Leafs


Boxing: Ali-Frasier

Hockey: Crosby-Ovechkin,  Bure-Federov

Baseball: Dimaggio-Williams, Clemens-Johnson, Mcgwire-Sosa, 

Basketball: Kobe-Lebron, Chamberlain-Russell,  

Football- Brady-P. Manning, 




2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael Toledo permalink
    March 10, 2009 9:31 am

    What about college football?

    And I know it’s your opinion on the best rivalries you put up, but I myself would differ on some, for example, NFL one and some of the individual ones.

    And as for the whole issue on outsider perspective: Does outside interest really matter? I can understand where you come from with that; however, I don’t think that interest from people outside the rivalry’s demographic can really add to the intensity of a good rivalry.

    • mikeyrolls permalink*
      March 10, 2009 9:07 pm

      I am debating the best rivalry in sports. When looking at an outside perspective, I am referring to how popular the rivalry is outside of the comfort bubble. Who is watching the UNC Duke rivalry in Oregon? I agree with you that the intensity of a good rivalry has nothing to do with outsiders perspective. In the same token, if the Lakers Celtics rivalry is watched by more of the public, is it considered a better rivalry than UNC Duke? Just some food for thought. Thanks for your input, and I appreciate your opinions, they definitely make a lot of sense.


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