In some of my prior posts, I reference a general rule that you shouldn’t wear apparel of your favorite teams’ rival team.
I received a question from a reader asking for information on US sports rivalries for people that live in other countries or new arrivals to the United States.
In response, here is my list of the best sports rivalries.
Pro Football Rivalries
Although the players are professionals making millions of dollars, some NFL rivalries are quite serious. Here are my choices for the top football rivalries:
- NFC East rivalries: The Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and Washington football team all hate each other. Fans of one of the teams cannot wear any apparel of any other teams.
- Steelers v. Ravens, Browns: There is no love lost between the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns. These long running rivalries are very heated, and things get very physical both on and off the field.
- Packers v. Bears, Vikings: These are also long standing rivalries with a lot of passion on all sides. I know of a few families that can no longer talk of football because of these rivalries.
- Raiders v. Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers: It seems like all teams in the AFC West all have one thing in common: they all hate the Raiders. Maybe this arises from the fact that Raider fans travel well, and practically take over the opposing teams, stadium when they come to town.
Pro Basketball Rivalries
Like the NFL, some NBA rivalries are intense, although these days the players move afrom team to team so much that the rivalries aren’t as intense as in year’s past. Here are my choices for top NBA Rivalries:
- Kings v. Lakers: This rivalry is one that is pretty one sided; there is no other team that Kings fans hate more than the Lakers. The hate stems from the Lakers unfairly winning the 2002 Western Comference Chapionship due to crooked refs, the Kings choking, and a clutch Robert Horry shot. One thing is for sure: no self-respecting Kings fan would be caught dead in Lakers apparel.
- Lakers v. Warriors: This rivalry has been heating up recently,, ecpecially with the signing of Lebrun James by the Lakers. The rivalry is also rooted in the longstanding “feud” between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
- Heat v. Knicks: This rivalry may have cooled down in recent years, but in the 90’s these teams got after it, with grueling battles that included physical fights.
- Celtics v. Lakers: This is another long time rivalry, which was born out of the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Several matchups in the finals took this rivalry to a fevered pitch.
- Pistons v. Bulls: This rivalry is geographic, as well as based on the on-court rivalry between the Michael Jordan Bulls and the “Bad Boys” Pistons.
Pro Baseball Rivalries
Baseball is a historical sport that seems to mark the passage of time. Because it dates back to the 1800’s, it’s fiercest rivalries date back generations. Here are my choices for the best rivalries in baseball:
- Giants v. Dodgers: This is one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports. The rivalry was born when both teams played in New York, and now is firmly planted in California. Both fans and players alike have suffered violence as a result of this rivalry.
- Red Sox v. Yankees: This is another old rivalry based on years and years of competition. It is also based on geographic proximity.
- Cubs v. Cardinals: Fans of the Cardinals and Cubs don’t seem to like each other very much. I would advise against supporting one of the teams in the other team’s city.
Much like baseball, many of the College Rivalries are very historic in nature. Many are based on Geographical proximity or in-state bragging rights. Others run even deeper that that. Here are my choices for the best college rivalries:
- Michigan v. Ohio State: This is a geographic rivalry based on many years of competition in the Big 10 in many sports.
- Cal v. Stanford: This is a geographic rivalry based on both teams being in the Bay Area. It also pits a Private School against a state university.
- Texas v. Oklahoma: This is a rivalry based on the fact that these schools are traditional powers in sports, and due to the schools being in rival states.
- BYU v. Utah: This is a lesser known rivalry, but it is not only based on supremacy in the state of Utah, but it is also called “The Holy War” due to its religious overtones.
- Alabama v. Auburn: The Iron Bowl. It not only determines bragging rights in the stat of Alabama, but usually has National Championship implications.
- USC v. UCLA: Another rivalry based on geography, as both teams are based in Los Angeles. Much like Cal and Stanford, it pits a private school against a state university.
- Ole Miss v. Mississippi State: This game determines supremacy in the state of Mississippi. Historically, this rivalry also had racial overtones.
- Florida v. Georgia: A hard fought rivalry between schools from bordering states.
- Duke v. North Carolina: This is a fierce college basketball rivalry for bragging rights in North Carolina.
Soccer Rivalries for New U.S. Fans
As soccer grows in popularity in the U.S., many American fans choose a European club to support. These are the big European Soccer rivalries to be aware of when choosing soccer apparel:
- Real Madrid v. Barcelona: “El Classico” is a battle of the two largest clubs in Spain.
- Manchester United v. Liverpool: These clubs really dislike each other. Separated by close proximity, these clubs have both been very successful historically, leading to this heated rivalry.
- Manchester United v. Manchester City: These two clubs share a city, but not fans. Manchester is definitely divided between red and blue.
- Arsenal v. Tottenham: This is another rivalry of teams that share a city and have an extreme dislike for each other.
Hopefully, this post will help novice sports fans know which rivals to be aware of, and only pick apparel from one team in the rivalry. Did I miss any big rivals? Are any rivalries overstated? Please leave your comments and let me know.
Here is a video of a top 10 rivalries list from Mojo. They have a few that I didn’t include.