Top 10 Rivalries in All of Sports
The Top 10 Rivalries In Sports
Any avid sports fans knows that watching games involving their favorite team holds a certainty for unforeseen screaming, laughter and maybe even a bit of crying. It is simply in the nature of sports fans around the world to view games as close to a life-and-death experience as anything else outside of actual life matters, whether that be for better or worse.
In this crazy experience that is fandom, the games that make people go crazy on a different level are rivalry matches, which always seem to light fireworks throughout stadiums, cities and the minds of fans. Whereas regular games at the college and pro levels tend to bring on a bit of civility and good-natured competitiveness, these games often get downright nasty both on and off the field. This does not always mean violence, but is more indicative of the tension between fans and players that results in a rise in the performances makes the noise level of stadiums go off the hinges.
What rivalry games also do is bring up a sort of common element between fanbases that normally hate each other to argue that their rivalry cannot be matched in the sporting world. Given recent rivalry games throughout the sports world, there has been an influx in these claims, and I have decided to compile a list of the top 10 rivalries in the sporting world.
Each of these rivalries encompasses great performances on the field, rabid fan bases and history, which in some cases dates back further than 100 years. Enjoy and feel free to give feedback.
10. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal
When Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC line up against each other twice each year in the English Premier League, the animosity between both players and fans is palpable. Both sides are perennially among the top sides in all of England, and the fact that the team's home stadiums sit only four miles apart from each other in North London creates a rivalry that is more personal than almost any other in sports. On the field, Arsenal holds the historical advantage over Tottenham with an All-Time record of 74-54-47. Since the two sides first met on December 4, 1909, nearly each game has been a battle for the full 90 minutes.
9. Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The youngest rivalry on this list is pits the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who first faced off on September 8, 1996. Since then, the rivalry has seen with hatred, with former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward summing up the animosity between the two sides when he once said,"The coaches hate each other, the players hate each other. There's no calling each other after the game and inviting each other out to dinner. But the feeling's mutual: They don't like us, and we don't like them. There's no need to hide it, they know it, and we know it." This quote from Ward has proven true on the field, as the teams have played extremely tight and physical games, although Pittsburgh holds a slight advantage with a 23-16 all-time record.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
The rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants has stood the test of time. The two teams first faced off on April 18, 1883 as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and the New York Giants. Since then, the two teams have been extremely close in proximity and on the field, with the Giants holding the historical win-loss record edge 1201-1174. On the field, this tightness has often spilled into physical altercations, with Juan Marichal running after Sandy Koufax with a bat in his hand in 1965 serving as the benchmark incident. This animosity has continued, and there is no doubting that players and fans continue to take each game between these two teams with extreme seriousness and hatred.
7. Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
In a mix of two of the original six NHL teams, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens combine to form the most intense rivalry in all of hockey. Although hockey is by nature a competitive and hostile sport, these two teams take these traits to a new level, as each matchup takes on a life of its own. Both sides have lined up Hall of Famers such as Bobby Orr, Larry Robinson, Cam Neely and Patrick Roy, who have ensured that no matchup passes without sparks flying.
6. Auburn vs. Alabama
When Auburn and Alabama line up against each other in the annual Iron Bowl, there is no doubting that a great matchup will ensue. One must only look at the latest match that ended on a 109-yard field goal return for a 34-28 Auburn win to see that each game is filled with madness both on and off the field. Historically, Alabama holds the all-time edge between the two sides with a 42-35-1 record, although the fight between these two in-state rivals never holds a dull moment.
5. Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers
In a matchup of the two most successful teams in NBA history, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have combined to establish a rivalry based around the fight for glory. The two teams have met in 12 different NBA Finals, with the Celtics winning nine of these series. This rivalry has progressed through the ages into a matchup that is still characterized by a genuine dislike for each other, as the times of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird in the 1980s paved the way for Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. Although both teams are not at their best in 2013, there is no doubting that a tight and physical game will ensue when they play each other.
4. Duke vs. UNC
When Duke and UNC matchup on the basketball court, it is impossible not to stay on the edge of your seat. Both are perennially ranked in the top-10 in college basketball and have a genuine dislike for each other. This dislike is largely aided by the fact that the two schools are located only 10 miles apart, and the matchup gets very personal between fans. As a result of this, there is never an empty seat in the Dean Dome or Cameron Indoor Stadium when the two sides play, and there is almost always a game that goes down to the wire on the court.
3. Barcelona vs. Real Madrid
In world soccer, there is no matchup that pits the level of talent and history that comes with a game between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The two sides have combined to win 54 La Liga titles, 13 European Cups, 44 Copa Del Rey titles, and now feature the two best players in the world in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Although both sides are extremely talented, they do not meet each other with happiness, as each game between the two sides features a plethora of bone-crunching tackles and flying bodies. Additionally, the two sides feature heavy doses of cultural differences, and this plays over into the hatred between both players and fans. Historically, this has played out to a 106-90-58 edge for Barcelona.
2. India vs. Pakistan
In a matchup that almost always holds both sporting and political ramifications, India and Pakistan combine to form a highly competitive cricket rivalry. The two neighboring nations have fought three official wars and engaged in numerous other conflicts, and as a result, both nations have a large amount of animosity towards each other. Matchups between the two nations often bring in more than 300 million viewers on television, and with each side ranking in the top-five among international cricket sides, each match is filled with extreme skill. Given the political, social and sporting implications of this rivalry, few matchups in sports top the importance of India vs. Pakistan cricket games.
1. Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees combine to form the best rivalry in all of sports by far. Ever since Babe Ruth went to the Yankees in 1919, both sides have had a genuine hatred for each other, which was aided by the so-called Curse of the Bambino. This turned each game into a battle, with the length of games in recent years taking up to five hours and feeling more like grudge matches than baseball games. We have seen numerous epic moments and series such as the walk-off shots from Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone, the Red Sox' miraculous playoff comeback in 2004, and various physical altercations on the field. There is no doubting that fans, players and owners of each team have a real dislike for each other, and that each time these two teams face off, there is a likelihood for something amazing to happen.