When your favorite team’s arch rival or in-state rival plays someone else, are you rooting for that team to win?
That has suddenly become a hot topic of discussion lately.
Iowa State fans seem to think that an Iowa fan HAS (now had) to be rooting for the Cyclones during their men’s hoops run to the Sweet 16 recently.
Some Hawkeye fans admit that they root for Iowa State when Iowa is not playing the Cyclones and some Iowa State fans hope that Iowa does well after it takes on the Cyclones.
And that’s perfectly fine for some.
For others in the fan bases, it is not humanly possible for them to root for the rival. And trust me, other fan bases are no different.
I know two friends personally who refuse to root for their arch rivals. One is a Southern California fan who despises everything about the UCLA Bruins and the other is a Missouri Tiger who loves to see the Kansas Jayhawks fall flat on their face.
Other examples I could use of fans who don’t root for their opposing arch rivals include Alabama-Auburn, Florida-Florida State, Michigan-Michigan State, Michigan-Ohio State, Duke-North Carolina, Texas-Texas A&M, Kansas-Kansas State and Louisville-Kentucky.
I married into a family that has a few Kentucky Wildcat fans and one admitted to a group of us recently that if Louisville beat the Wildcats in the Sweet 16 (they didn’t) that there was no way he would support the Cardinals moving forward.
My sister-in-law is an Auburn fan and she said she could never hope for Alabama to do well in anything.
Rivalries are meant to be intense and they are meant to have fans from all different parts of the spectrum.
Fans can and should be able to root for who they want. They shouldn’t be required to support the other team moving forward.
Florida and Florida State recently had a tussle on the baseball field after a Florida State runner crashed into a Florida first baseman after a slow roller down the baseline. Benches cleared. Pushing and shoving commenced.
Rivalries – they are what make sports fun.
It doesn’t only dip into college athletics.
Fans of the Chicago Cubs typically don’t root for the St. Louis Cardinals.
I root for the Cincinnati Reds in the MLB and I want the Cubs and Cardinals to go 0-162 every year. My allegiance with the San Francisco 49ers has me hoping that the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals have terrible seasons.
There has been stabbings between San Francisco Giant fans and Los Angeles Dodger fans over their heated rivalry. The Dodgers also didn’t make any friends when they had a benches-clearing altercation with another division rival – the Arizona Diamondbacks – last summer.
The examples are endless. But it all boils down to one thing.
Fans of athletic teams shouldn’t be told who they can and can’t root for. If a Hawkeye fan wants to root for the Cyclones to do well in the NCAA tournament then so be it. But a Cyclone shouldn’t be upset if the Iowa fan claps loudly for the other team.
Just like Iowa fans shouldn’t be mad that an Iowa State fan shows to a bar during the Big Ten Conference basketball tournament wearing a Northwestern shirt and then leaves the bar when the game is over in his Iowa State gear (that actually happened).
Sports are fun. Rivalries are fun. They can mix and should mix.
Leave it alone. And root for whoever you want to root for.