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Adding a Dose of Excitement in Sports

Ten years have passed since Kim Yuna and Mao Asada, have maintained their rivalry status. It has led people in Korea and Japan to focus on which skater is better. These two skaters are just one example. There are numerous players, clubs and countries that have created rivalries through the support of fans. Because of this, in the sports world, the words “rivalry” or “derby” create a sense of a competition between one another, which adds a scent of attention and excitement to the viewers. Most believe that sports rivalries only exist between teams, but there are rivalries between countries as well. The first and foremost two fierce rivaling countries are Brazil and Argentina.

In 1825, Cisplatin, a country under the control of Brazil at the time, received financial and military support from the Argentine government. This allowed the people under the command of Jose Artigas, now a national hero of Uruguay, to gain the firepower to fight for independence from Brazil. This ignited the long Cisplatine war between Argentina and Brazil which was brought to a halt in 1828. The historical event has caused the people of Argentina and Brazil to extend the rivalry into sports culture. As a result, the sports rivalry between the two grew more intense in a game of football. Nowadays, the fierce game between Brazil and Argentina is known as “The battle of South Americas.” This comes from a clash between the two in 1945. During two football matches, a Brazilian player broke an Argentinian star player’s leg repeatedly, igniting both of the teams to rush into the pitch and fight leading the players to be sent to their lockers. The sense of rivalry is still shown today as in 2012 for example, during the Europa League Cup at San Paulo, Brazil, the physical play of the Argentinian players led the Brazilian security guards at the game to beat up the Argentinian players in their locker rooms during the half time. Apart from this, battles between fans are seen as a national disaster in Brazil due to its intensity.

Another example of rival countries involves Serbia and Croatia. Historically, these two countries are left scarred. In the 1970’s, under the influence of communism, Yugoslavia made Tito, a communist activist, their president who combined the three ethnic countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia) together. However after the death of Tito, the ethnical and, religious differences between the three countries led to the falter of Yugoslavia and independence of each country. During the time of declaring independence, the Croatia War is known to have had the most impact between their relations. This war happened with the passing of a new law which declared Serbians as a minority. Through the implications of the new law, Serbians residing in Croatia started a riot. This history repeated itself in 1990 during the World Basketball Championship. Croatia and Serbia attended the games as a unified country of Yugoslavia and beat the Russians at the finals to receive the championship cup. However, during the celebration ceremony, a Serbian player named Vlade Divac threw down the national flag of Croatia on to the floor after a fan tried to give him the flag. Although it was not Divac’s intention, this issue fueled the flame to the sports fans of both countries. Since then, whenever the two countries meet in a match, fan violence sometimes goes through the roof. In 2007, fans rooted in game between Croatia and Serbia threw bottles at each other and started a fistfight which left a total of 150 people hurt or arrested by the police. However, when it comes to rivalry, especially in sports,

Canada and the USA cannot be left out. Being geographically adjacent to one another, the similar culture and attitudes towards sports created an intense rivalry between the two. One sport that reflects this point well is ice hockey. Ice hockey was first introduced to Canada in 1825 by British soldiers, whereas, USA on the other hand received this sport into their culture in 1893, nearly 70 years after Canada. However, after a USA national ice hockey team was created in 1920, it soon grew into a popular sport. The rivalry grew bigger after the USA national ice hockey team beat Canada at the Winter Olympic Games in 1960. With the rise of attention in the two countries of this rivalry, goons or professional fighters were introduced to the sports. The goons took out star players or fought back to make the opponent player injured. Due to such issues, a total of 184 fistfights occurred in the last 435 games between Canada and USA. Moving away from national rivalries, there are teams that have shown fierce rivalries which are deeply rooted in the past. Compared to rival countries, teams have even more intense rivalries.

According to a sports critic, Shin Dong-ho, when comparing fan bases, individuals who strongly identify with the team’s players or origin, create rivalries which are reflected in more competitive matches. For instance, the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons are one of the most prolonged rivalries in the modern history of basketball. Back in 1980s when the two teams were the most competitive, the Pistons focused on using physical strengths to tightly mark and block the players whereas Bulls had Michael Jordon, making them the unbeatable shield and sword in the NBA. Yankees and Boston Red Sox also represented a rivalry in baseball for over a century. New York back in the 1700s was not like the modern New York. It was seen as a dirty city, whereas Boston was the center of education. This changed as New York built the Erie Canal in the 19th century, which led to immense financial development, and also creating a rivalry between the two cities based on financial differences.

In baseball, however, Boston, the former best team of MLB from 1901 to 1918, did not come close to winning after selling their star player, Babe Ruth to New York Yankees. This was called “the curse of bambino,” which has been an issue between fans. In this way, rivalries in sports have existed between various teams and countries. This rivalry also can be extended to university sports teams as well.

As For Dongguk University, fans named the basketball team and its rivals, Konkuk University and Dankook University, the three kingdoms due to the similarities of its names. Although simply the name has created the reputation as rivals, Dongguk University has lost many times to Dankook and Konkuk, which has led coach Suh Dae-sung to criticize the players more and pressure them to win against the “rivals.” Overall, rivalry in sports is a factor that can bring excitement and joy to the games. All over the world, there are numbers of regions and countries that have heated rivalry. Although there will be some serious consequences if these rivalries exceed acceptable behavior, balanced rivalries will be good fun for viewers to watch in the upcoming game of Brazil World Cup. Which team will you root on?

Lee Dong-jun  jack222@dongguk.edu

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