Sports Rivalries – A Healthy Trend?

Sports Rivalries – A Healthy Trend?

Giridhar Krishnan

One of the beautiful things in any sport is the desire to win – a healthy dose of competition. The desire amongst all athletes to end up winners or champions in the world series tournaments or even at their local leagues is to win against their competitors. At times there are rivalries so heated that people do not mind if they do not win the championship even but cannot bear losing against a particular team. There can be a lot of reasons like the cultural setup, political relations and so on. This in turn makes those matches in any sport highly heated and competitive. Popular rivalries act as advertising for various sports, such as the Bruins vs Canucks rivalry in the Canadian NHL. There is also always competition between individuals, even in Olympic level sports.

As an athlete, how would one feel when facing a team that is projected as a larger than life archrival by the media and the spectators. It may be exciting when they end up on the winning side – it would generate unprecedented energy levels and support for a team. If specific athletes play a major part in the victory, they can sometimes get treated as kings. The media also haunts those who lose – for example, the popular “Luongo” chant at most Canucks games. Athletes getting berated by media and fans need to make their social life low key, as some crazy fanatics could look at them as a traitor. The trauma and stress to come out of being a member of the losing team is unimaginable. The only way to escape the stigma is by registering multiple victories against the rival.

It is very healthy to create competition and even having rivals is a healthy part of sport, as rivalries encourage more fierce practice and determination. The problem arises when things are taken too personally; Due to the sport rivalries, there have been spats witnessed all over the world in various sports. After taking them too personally,l some athletes have ended up with bruised fists, black eyes, and lawsuits. Unpleasant incidents of athlete arrests have been splashed all over the media.

No sport desires these intense rivalries, and sport was never invented for this intense off-field competition. Athletes around the globe should realize they are the pride of their countries or clubs and such actions by them dent the image of the whole nation. The media too should for their part understand that players may be superheroes on field, yet off-field they are human. The media, for their part, needs to respect celebrity privacy.

Sports rivalries could really be a healthy trend. Athletes should learn from the defeats as much as they enjoy the victories. This can be done if they respect their fellow sportsperson, admire their game and learn from them. Encourage sports rivalries on field and off-field, encourage each other for a positive world of sports.