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During this past Thanksgiving Break, my family and I took a vacation to Arizona to tour colleges. My brother is applying to both University of Arizona and Arizona State, so naturally we visited Arizona to tour the campuses and to get a feel for the atmosphere of this new state. The trip did not have much of a vacation-like feel to it because of the college hopping, college information being given to us, and long car rides that I endured, but my family acquired four tickets to the Arizona State vs. University of Arizona football game from one of my neighbors at home. It was held on a Saturday night in the University of Arizona’s football stadium. I was very anxious for game day because I saw it as a chance to relax and enjoy a thrilling college sports rivalry game. However, after attending the performance I reevaluated my definition of college sports rivalry.

What was so grand about my experience that night was that if I sat in any other section of the stadium, this experience would have evaded me. Since it was a home game for University of Arizona, Arizona State only had a small section of fans that maybe totaled 5% of the area, while the Wildcat fans totaled the other 95%. And out of the whole stadium, we got tickets from our neighbor located directly adjacent to the tiny Sun Devil section.

My family and I arrived to our seats over thirty minutes before the game started, yet the stadium was at a level of rowdy that could equal a fourth quarter nail-bitter of a game. It was ridiculous, but amazing at the same time because it just displays the high degree of passion these people have for their respective colleges, which is something I wish to have as well with my college I decide to attend. The game eventually begins, and the stadium only increases in volume. The student section was extremely animated, along with the band section and those who have already graduated from college. And it was these people who have already graduated which perked my attention.

The game was a close and entertaining game to watch, but I couldn’t flush out these graduates from both schools that were surrounding me from every direction. I couldn’t help but listen to what they were saying and how they were saying it. Back and forth they would go, talking trash about the team when the time was appropriate with what was happening in the ball game. This one man wearing his many Wildcat clothing would specifically look back to this other man who was wearing his Sun Devil attire, and would habitually tease him when his team made a poor play. The man wearing Sun Devil clothes would tease the other man back when his team made a poor play. It turned into this back and forth tease battle among the two people. This was the rivalry among two people. But, something that had never crossed my mind before was at what depth was this feud at?

Was it surface level? A series of trash talking skirmishes during the game, but when the game time hit 0, did they go home and continue their lives without a vendetta and forget about who they verbally battled to at the game? Was it all in good fun of sporting? It could have been. I did observe the Wildcat graduate ending his teases to the other man with a friendly chuckle and light smile on his face, emitting a sense of high spirited classic fun. However, I rarely saw the Sun Devil graduate chuckle back to him in the same manner. He at times looked very serious while mocking back the Wildcat graduate and had a slight flare of aggression to his tone. I was then confronted with the question, was the rivalry more than surface level?

Was it much deeper? Did the two people who would have had no sort of relation to each other whatsoever if they hadn’t attended the two rival schools, dislike each other as individuals? My brain halted abruptly after thinking this question, and I was perplexed because I was not sure. There was no conclusive evidence to sway me to either side. Were they kidding, or were they serious? And if we assume they were serious, did these two men have a choice about it, or were they sucked into this mindset towards the opposing school by simply registering to take classes at the other? So many questions littered my brain that I had trouble constantly focusing on the football game. This series of questions propelled me to questions about myself and the modern world.

I have been a Los Angeles Lakers fan for as long as I can remember. Naturally, I dislike the Boston Celtics because of the heated rivalry between the two teams. And I never really pondered this, but do I truly not like the Celtics and everything that is grouped with the franchise, or am I just saying I do? If I see a Boston Celtics fan walking on the sidewalk by himself, but I have no clue he is a fan of the Celtics, am I going to automatically shun him as if I could sense that he was a fan of the Celtics? I think not. Am I going to pass up an autograph from Rajon Rondo simply because he plays for the Celtics? I think not as well. So why do I still dislike Celtics players and Celtics fans? This concept of rivalry has seem to gotten the best of me. Likewise, in politics these days the rivalry between Democrats and Republicans is similar. Two political parties with fairly similar viewpoints and principles, yet they will rarely compromise in Congress and cause social tension among individuals. Has the concept of being rivals of which political party will run the United States clouded their minds and judgment? When it is my time to attend college, I plan to enjoy the rivalry spirit for what it’s worth, but recognize when the word has been given too much power.

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