Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rivalries Put Life in Sports

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rivalries Put Life in Sports

Article excerpt

The first rivalry known to mankind was probably David vs. Goliath.

The tale of the tape favored Goliath - he had a big reach advantage - but David was quicker. When Goliath tried to rope-a-dope David, David killed Goliath with a sling and five stones.

David's mistake was eliminating Goliath. It assured there would be no David vs. Goliath II, which would have been boffo box office, not to mention the pay-per-view rights and lucrative T-shirt concessions.

A later rivalry was Popeye vs. Bluto. The creators of this cartoon rematched them almost every episode. The only puzzling thing was why most of the fights were over the affections of someone like Olive Oyl.

Whether it was before Christ or after Stooges, people love rivalries. Rivalries keep sports interesting because it's the human element where a competition is pushed beyond skills and into raw emotion.

Think of great past rivalries. Dodgers vs. Giants. Chamberlain vs. Russell. Ali vs. Frazier. Nicklaus vs. Palmer. Chris vs. Martina. Celtics vs. Lakers. Lombardi's Packers vs. Halas' Bears.

Every time these rivals put on their game faces, sports fans took sides because they knew they'd see something memorable.

You chose Russell because his Celtics won more NBA championships. You picked Chamberlain because pro basketball had never seen anything like him before.

Ali was your man because he was the quickest heavyweight who ever lived. Frazier was your favorite because he rarely met a punch he couldn't take.

You liked Lombardi's Packers and Halas' Bears for the no-nonsense styles of the coaches.

Rivalries are why college football and basketball have maintained enthusiastic interest. Nothing professionally can match the intensity and passion of Alabama-Auburn in football and North Carolina-Duke in basketball.

Free agency is killing pro rivalries. …

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