This week is rivalry week in sports, and it started last night with the terrific game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. These two teams still hate each other after 60 meetings and it felt good to watch them battle it out.
It got me thinking, however, how the sports rivalries today aren't as nasty as they once were. Yes there are still some hate filled meetings occasionally, but generally the really vicious rivalries have turned into a hug fest and it takes away from the experience.
Yankees/Red Sox, Duke/North Carolina, Michigan/Ohio State, and Montreal Canadiens/Boston Bruins are examples of rivalries that still carry some nastiness. There are others, I know, and you can fill in your list here.
Most of the traditional ones have gone soft over the years. The Bears/Packers, especially during the Halas/Lombardi and Ditka/Gregg eras, were wars that drew hate like red meat to lions. Today there are post game hugs and prayer groups, where are the fisticuffs?
All this group love made me realize that the rivalries have moved from the sports arena to the political theater. The real hate today is between Democrats/Republicans, Pro Life/Pro Choice, more guns/less guns, and conservative/liberal. All emotional, for many people, but not exactly something you'll see on ESPN in prime time.
Sports rivalries were meant to distract us from our miserable daily existence. It gave us three or four hours of relief from our own issues to focus on how much we hated that Winged Wheel on the front of the Red Wings uniforms. As the great Tom Barnicle tells everyone, the first thing his dad taught him to say was "Detroit Sucks".
The problem with the new rivalries is that instead of letting us escape from our shitty lives, they are the reason for our shitty lives. We already hate them every minute of our day, so now we have no escape valve and the hate grows until we explode into fighting each other instead.
As you watch the rivalry games this week, think about how different they are today, compared to even ten years ago, and ask yourself what you can do to bring that hate back. We need a pressure relief valve again in America.
The Big Ten had a bad week with video review this week. Missed calls all over the league, and they weren't alone, as many bad calls were highlighted around football. As I watched Northwestern get the benefit of some truly awful calls, I wondered why, with today's technology, were the refs being asked to review calls on 7" monitors like it was 1994?
70" LED TV's are on sale every week at Costco and Sam's Club for $500, for god's sake, and the best the NCAA power five, NHL, NFL, and MLB can afford are 7" Casio TV's? No wonder there are so many calls not corrected. Hey sports leagues, if you are going to have video review, spend some stinking money for better equipment.