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The Biggest Rivalry Doesn’t Exist

Jim Rogash, Getty Images

As we all get set for tonight’s Syracuse/Georgetown & Duke/North Carolina games, it brings up a great debate about rivalries in sports.

Let’s face it, every fan has one game on their teams’ schedule that they look forward to the most every year.  Throw out the records, when rivals get together, it’s always a battle.

So what is the best rivalry in all of sports?

The simple answer – there is none.  The biggest rivalry in sports doesn’t exist.

Rivalries are basically all regional.  What means something to me could mean nothing to you. It’s all about where you live!

  • Yankees/Red Sox: It’s huge for the northeast.  But what does it mean to someone in Alabama or Seattle, Washington? Again, baseball ratings for nationally televised games aren’t very good. In fact, they are on par with a good college basketball rivalry game.
  • Duke/Carolina: That’s huge to most people on the East Coast and big-time college basketball fans. But what does that rivalry mean to sports fans in the Capital Region?  Probably not as much as it does to someone in North Carolina.

    Streeter Lecka, Getty Images

It’s all about perspective and care level.

  • Michigan/Ohio State: If you’re not a college football fan or you don’t live in Michigan or Ohio, you probably don’t care about this game.  But it’s one of sports’ oldest rivalries.  Again, it’s all about the care-level and perspective.
  • Boston College vs. Boston University hockey: If you don’t care about college hockey, it doesn’t even register on your radar. But that’s as big as anything in the Boston/New England sports landscape.
  • RPI vs. Union: It might be a great rivalry for us, but drive an hour and a half in any direction and they’d laugh at you if you said that.
  • Siena/UAlbany: In our area, that’s probably the best sporting event you can witness live in person.  But people in Ohio think Sienna is a mini-van that is used by soccer moms.

There’s also no way you could agree on just one rivalry being the best.

  • Yankees/Red Sox: It’s big for us in the northeast, but have you seen the TV ratings for those games? They aren’t very good on a national scale.
  • Army/Navy: One of the best college football rivalries with tons of tradition. But if you’re not a college fan or a fan of service academy football, you probably don’t really care about this triple option-fest of a game.
  • Duke/UNC: I love this rivalry but I’m an ACC guy.  In the Capital Region, Syracuse/Georgetown is just as big!

    Doug Benc, Getty Images
  • Auburn/Alabama: Unless you’re a hillbilly, you probably don’t care!!
  • Cowboys/Giants: I’d argue that the Cowboys/Redskins is bigger. Again, it’s all about perspective and region.
  • Packers/Bears: Very, very regional.
  • Ohio State/Michigan: This is probably as big as college football gets – but around here, not so much.
  • Cubs/Cardinals: This MLB rivalry is very Midwest oriented…

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