When hating the other team nearly feels as good as loving your own.
College sports are steeped in tradition, but for a concept that feels so old; there are very few consistencies in its history. Players and coaches change, rankings rise and fall, and even uniforms change, but one thing stands the test of time for teams and fans alike: rivalries.
The passion and history between school rivals is special, and in many ways these meetings are what make college sports irresistible. Rival games serve as the crossroads between team pride, history, age-old grievances, and begrudging respect for the opponent, which makes for the most thrilling competitions a fan could ask for.
As exciting as it is to watch these games, it is even more intense to play. As a college athlete entering your freshman year, you are adopted into the family of your school’s team. Just like any family, you have collective goals, values, and a cultural standard….and of course the hatred of your rivalry school. The crazy part is that you don’t know why you hate them but you just do. For BU it was Boston College – “The Battle of Commonwealth Ave.” The game always had a level of intensity and emotion that I didn’t experience in any other game. It was always so important to stay calm and focused against BC, not let my emotions get the best of me. The score was always close and the games were hard fought, so it really came down to who was the better team and who executed that day. We had some great finishes to these rivalry games in my five years but none better than 2016 when Maddie McClain, an unheralded striker, scored an incredible goal 7 minutes into overtime for a 1-0 win.
Most sports fans know about the popular and highly touted college football rivalry games like Michigan – Ohio State, Harvard – Yale, Army – Navy, Auburn – Alabama, but here is a little trivia. Do you know what the #1 most played college football rivalry game is? Lehigh – Lafayette (shhh…I’m supposed to call them “the school in Easton”)! As my brother prepares for his first rivalry game against “the school in Easton”, the 154th meeting, he is learning what that hate tastes like. We grew up living it and learning about it. My father and none other than Dr. Lee Picariello also played in this game four times, and to this day my dad dislikes that “school in Easton”!
It is not easily explained. It is a mix of history, loyalty, and pride that boil over during rivalry week. Alumni pile in from all over the country. You can smell the excitement in the air; that one chance a year to stomp on your arch enemy! My family will load up the cars and be stadium side by 8:30am preparing for the 154th rendition this Saturday. Game on. #GO LU!