Sports rivalries. Hoo boy. Over here in Europe it's mostly the football, but it probably varies worldwide. Listing them all would take forever, but each country has a few prominent teams, and liking one automatically means you have to passionately hate whoever is playing them.
If there's a Ur Example, it must be Celtic-Rangers, the Old Firm. This has been going on for all of 121 years, with the two clubs becoming symbols of the deep social and religious divides in Scotland. Also in the UK, there are several London derbies such as Arsenal-Spurs and Fulham-Chelsea plus there's Newcastle-Sunderland, Man Utd-Man City and Villa-Birmingham. The most potent English rivalry by far though is Manchester United vs Liverpool. The two biggest and most successful English clubs, from rival cities only 26 miles apart, yet bear similarities in the start of their success, dominating periods and even shirt colour.
Everybody versus Manchester United. The team have been extremely successful since the 1980s at least, leading to practically every other team seeing them as the one to beat, and to a stereotype of their fans as "glory hunters" who have no regional connection to them and only like them because they win all the time. Their local supporters were also notorious for putting the club way ahead of the English national team. There is even a common term for this. ABU seen on a football forum means "Anyone But United".
In the 2000s, people from all over the country also began to hate Chelsea and Manchester City, because they're seen as only being successful because their fantastically wealthy foreign owners can buy any player they fancy.
In Wales, Cardiff City vs. Swansea City is starting to develop as a rather nasty rivalry now that the two teams are in the same division and play each other on a regular basis.
Except now, as Swansea has claim to being the first Welsh team to play in the English Premier League, whereas Cardiff lost its playoff semi-final to Reading (who lost to Swansea). This will probably only help to add fuel to the fire.
Argentina's soccer rivalries. Name any of them. It is a very bloody rivalry and a very strong on at that, the most important of these, of course, is Boca Juniors - River Plate, but there's also Independiente - Racing de Avellaneda, San Lorenzo - Huracán, (or Vélez in some cases) Newell's Old Boys - Rosario Central, (Rosario) Belgrano - Talleres, (Cordoba) Gimnasia - Estudiantes (La Plata)... Some rivalries have very dark stories, which often involve fan deaths at battles, a fact which induced to some laws to prevent visitor spectators in lower division matches.
Brazil is just as bad with this. In a few cases, a team has many regional rivals (both Rio and São Paulo have 4 big teams). Some supporters create entire websites on dissing the rival. And like in Argentina, the "classic matches" always have fights, sometimes with people dying.
In national teams, Argentina - Brazil and Argentina - Uruguay can count in South America, although the latter is considered a friendly rivalry. Overseas, the rivalry is with England. Hoo boy...
If you thought that being a Chilean soccer fan would be less, uhm, complicated... you are wrong. Never ever put fans of either Colo Colo, Universidad Catolica and/or Universidad de Chile in the same room. In few minutes or even seconds, someone's gonna get at least yelled at. And few later, someone will get beaten up. And in regards, to "classic matches", specially Colo Colo vs. U. de Chile... yeah, people have died too.
Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. This one is frickin' global: scuffles over the game have been reported as far afield as Cape Town and Ramallah. It stems from regional rivalries dating back centuries, as well as the cities being respective bastions of the right and left during the Spanish Civil War.
In Egypt, the rivalry is between Al-Ahly vs. Zamalek. This one had class connotations—Al-Ahly (literally, "the National" Club) was founded by Egyptians, for Egyptians, while Zamalek was founded by a group of expatriates and some wealthier locals—but this element has subsided over time. Nevertheless, games between the two—called the "Cairo Derby" as both teams are based in the capital—can lead to some serious rioting/crazy street-celebration, particularly since the Ultras Ahlawy group got started in 2007; their antics forced the CAF to have the game against Wydad Casablanca in the 2011 African Champions League to be played in an empty stadium.
Their current antics also have political connotations: the Ahlawy Ultras were deeply involved in the Revolution of 2011, serving as the "muscle" for the revolutionaries, protecting them against the police.
England versus Germany in international football. Made worse by Germany's habit of knocking England out of tournaments in penalty shootouts.
College-frickin'-football (American), especially in the Midwest and South.
Red River Rivalry. Anyone from Texas or Oklahoma will know exactly what I am talking about before they even click the link.
The Lone Star Showdown between University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Relatively civil over the past couple of decades, which leads some fans from each side to campaign to "bring back the hate".
The Lone Star Showdown is also on hold indefinitely due to Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 Conference to join the SEC. Both fanbases would like to bring the annual game back, but there are no concrete plans to do so at this point.
The classic: The University of Michigan and The Ohio State University, quite possibly the oldest rivalry among BCS teams (the Ivy League's rivalries are older, but they're not in contention anymore). Not half as interesting as it used to be, since U-M has been emphasizing academics so heavily and its sports teams have lately started to suck, but wearing red and gray in Ann Arbor will get you catcalls in the daytime and could get you into a scrape during the drunken nights. On the other hand, wearing maize and blue in Columbus is a capital offense.
Note that wearing red and gray in Ann Arbor would be a capital offense, but for the fact that Michigan abolished the death penalty in 1846.note For most crimes; treason—and you might argue that wearing OSU colors in Ann Arbor is similar to treason, seeing as it gives aid and comfort to the enemy—was technically a capital offense before the Constitution of 1963 placed a complete ban.
True story: one of the biggest dancesport events in the US is Ohio Star Ball, held in Columbus every November. It includes collegeiate team comptition. It almost always overlaps the UM/OSU game. Members of the Michigan ballroom team have gotten catcalled and threatened for wearing their team jackets, even in the covention center where the competition takes place!
Michigan/Michigan State isn't as big a rivalry as Michigan/Ohio State, but you'd never know that as a kid growing up in the Detroit area. It's been known to split families in two on the day of the game. It's even gotten to the point where guards are posted around Sparty (Michigan State's mascot) whenever Michigan comes to play, since Michigan fans will sometimes paint a little golden M (the Michigan logo) on his bottom, and Ann Arbor (where Michigan is located) will have blue and gold street signs (everywhere else in the area has green and white street signs, but green and white are Michigan State's official colors while blue and gold or Michigan's colors).
While we're on the topic of Midwest rivalries, Wisconsin-Minnesota is pretty storied. And oh yeah, Iowa-Wisconsin has been ridiculously close over the last few years. This is the link for the football (The American kind, for you Europeans.) rivalry. Wisconsin leads the gridiron series 43-42-2. But it doesn't end there. It extends to basketball too. Including yesterday's game (A 79-74 Wisconsin victory) the last five match ups have been decided by 5 or less points. Whoo, that's close.
But neither of these can compare to the Iron Bowl, the rivalry between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers. Fans of the winning team have been known to burn the score of the game into the lawns of neighbors who support the losing team to rub it in. Or worse. An Alabama fan was arrested for poisoning some trees on the Auburn campus.
Also worth noting is the slogan of the Third Saturday in October (The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry), "Hate Auburn because you have to, hate Tennessee because you want to."
Brigham Young University vs the University of Utah. Take all the usual college rivalry elements as noted above, then add some religion to the mix. BYU is owned by the LDS (Mormon) Church, the U is run by the state of Utah. Many BYU fans consider the U to be a secular, sin-ridden, anti-religious school. Many U fans consider BYU to be an academically inferior, self-righteous indoctrination camp. Neither side quite knows what to make of the fact that Brigham Young founded both schools, or that the two most recent presidents of the LDS Church graduated from the U.
In terms of longevity at least, the rivalry between Patriot League enemies Lafayette and Lehigh top all others. They've been going at it every year since 1897, making their big game the oldest uninterrupted college football rivalry in the United States.
UCLA vs USC. They absolutely HATE each other. ESPN demostratesThe crosstown rivalry splits families at times. It doesn't help that it's in Los Angeles, the second most populated city in the United States.
BCS. Never before have three letters brought such rage in collegiate sports. And that's just if you support a college from automatic-qualifying conference. Supporting a non-AQ college means those letters mean somethingelseentirely...
Florida-Florida State. In fact, all college football teams in Florida other than the Gators tend to dislike the Gators, as they have a rivalry with the Hurricanes and the Seminoles.
The North Carolina-Duke rivalry is so strong that when somebody wrote a book about it, it was titled To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever. A lot of fans on both sides took one look at that title and went, "Yep."
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill versus North Carolina State University rivalry can get pretty intense, too. On a side note, there is some weirdly enthusiastic rivalry between UNC-A and UNC-CH...
Alabama State and A&M for the SWAC division (the bands too).
Arizona and Arizona State may not have the national recognition that some of the others listed here do, but is notable for being played for the (NCAA-certified) oldest rivalry trophy ever, the Territorial Cup, which has been awarded since 1889.
Almost every SEC team has one big, hate-filled rivalry. Most schools have one line in either an official or unofficial song that gives another team the finger.
Alabama - "F*** Auburn" in Dixieland Delight, the song played in the middle of the second half.
The fight song also alludes to the now-dead rivalries with Georgia and Georgia Tech.
"And LSU" / "And Tennessee Too!" right afterwards.
Ole Miss - When "And the South shall rise again!" was banned, fans took replaced it with the old saying "And geaux to Hell, LSU!"
Likewise, LSU has "Geaux to hell, Ole Miss!"
Army-Navy (and to a lesser extent the heated games vs. Air Force Academy). For a brief period - the 1940s and 1950s - this was one of the premiere football rivalries, supported by an existing Interservice Rivalry centuries in the making. While both schools have fallen from top-tier status, their season-ending contest (nowadays scheduled as the last regular season game before the bowls kick in) remains well-watched, the rivalry more respected than hated.
University of Oregon Ducks vs. Oregon State Beavers. With the Ducks becoming a dominant force in college football since the start of The New Tens, this has died out somewhat, but it still exists, having gone on for nearly a hundred years in the state of Oregon. The game between the Ducks and the Beavers is even known as "the Civil War," as it's been known to divide otherwise peaceful neighborhoods down a very thin line.
Most Baltimore Ravens fans had no doubt who they were rooting for in Super Bowl XLIV - Colts hate has run deep ever since the former Baltimore Colts infamously packed up at midnight to rush them over to their new home in Indianapolis. There's also a less entrenched Ravens/Titans rivalry.
Ravens/Steelers can get nasty quickly. This is due to the fact that this feud is the Spiritual Successor to the original Cleveland Browns/Steelers rivalry (Art Modell was the founder of both the Browns and Ravens, and he moved his team and the staff to Baltimore in 1996. However, the city of Cleveland retained the Browns' history, records, championships, team colors, etc.).
Simularly, the Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans (a.k.a. the former Houston Oilers). The name Bud Adams will garner nothing but absolute contempt in Houston, TX.
Try visiting the Oakland Coliseum as a supporter of the Chiefs, Broncos or Chargers. There WILL be blood. Raider Nation is vicious to AFC West fans, and many a fight breaks out just because of a guy having too much to drink taking offense at someone not clad in silver and black. If you do manage to avoid a fight, be prepared to sit through a long day of getting heckled and jeered at. Until the Raiders lose, anyway.
The whole NFC East (Giants, Cowboys, Redskins, and Eagles) despises each other, to the point where it's hard to pick the biggest rivalry, but it's probably Dallas and Washington. The intra-divisional rivalry is so bitter that many fans of a particular team count an otherwise dismal season a success if their favorites beat their most hated rival in both outings.
The NFC North (Bears, Lions, Packers, and Vikings) also despises each other.
The San Francisco 49ers/Seattle Seahawks rivalry is getting quite volatile and at times bordering on Fan Dumb.
Another is the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox. The history is rife with player drama, the "David vs. Goliath" overtones, and divides within single states like Connecticut.
While we're at it, Boston seems to be the center for a lot of American pro sports' biggest rivalries. In addition to Sox-Yankees, there's Celtics-Lakers, Patriots-Colts (often boiled down to Brady-Manning) and the extremely bitter Bruins-Canadiens. For the most part, Red Sox/Celtics/Patriots players don't take their respective rivalries nearly as seriously as the fans. With the Bruins and Canadiens, there will be fighting majors. Lots of them. And blood.
Canadiens fans have gone as far as booing the U.S. national anthem when facing the Bruins in a playoff game in Montreal. It wasn't the first time. The media, the Canadiens coach and the Canadiens players all slammed them for it.
There's also Pats-Jets, although that ties in more to the general theme of Boston-NYC.
Everyone vs. the Yankees. Seriously, most fans of pro baseball who don't specifically support the Yankees will support almost any team over the Yankees.
Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, anyone? People have died over it. It's the oldest rivalry in professional American sports, one that began in New York and simultaneously encompassed the cultural rivalry between Brooklyn (the Dodgers) and Manhattan (the Giants), and was transplanted to the opposite coast, where it once again encompassed the cultural rivalry between Los Angeles and San Francisco. There's a reason why Forbes and Fox Sports rated it the #1 rivalry in baseball, period. The Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry is seated at #2 because no matter how much the media and the fans play it/admit it, the rivalry is too one-sided in terms of championships (Yankees have 27, Red Sox have 8. See how wide a margin that is?). The Dodgers and the Giants are just about even in their accomplishments and they have the most storied rivalry in baseball history.
Just in Northern California, there's San Francisco vs. Oakland. Seen in both baseball (Giants/A's) and football (Forty-Niners/Raiders).
And the Chicago teams - the rivalry between the Cubs and the White Sox runs deep. Like to the point where the PD breaks out the mounted riot police when they two teams play each other each season.
A whole website is dedicated for the three California hockey teams to take shots at each other.
Speaking of Chicago, there is no love lost between the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. It can either be this or Friendly Rivalry depending on the season.
Chicago and St. Louis' other rivalry has heated up in recent years. The Blues and Blackhawks fans aren't really keen on one another. One of the burning points in the 40+ year rivalry was in the 1992-93 NHL playoffs. Heavily favored to win the series, Chicago wound up getting swept by the Blues in the Clarence Campbell quarterfinals.
Related to the National Hockey League, the Blackhawks also have one with the Detroit Red Wings (which in fact have some heat with basically every U.S. team).
In fact, the St. Louis Cardinals themselves were actually a product of the Chicago/St. Louis rivalry. St. Louisans back in the mid-1800s got fed up with Chicago professional baseball teams coming in and inflicting a Curb-Stomp Battle against amateur St. Louis clubs, so the locals went about getting a professional team of their own. 11 World Series Championships later...
There are also the whole Football versus American Football debates that crop up from time to time. Usually with Americans calling "soccer" a silly non-sport and Europeans accusing Football of being a mindless and incredibly slow waste of time.
In Australia, it's a four-way rivalry between Australian Rules Football, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Soccer. The Aussie Rules vs Soccer aspect has recently been exacerbated by the AFL denying Soccer the use of Docklands StadiumColonial StadiumTelstra Dome Etihad Stadium should Australia host the World Cup.
Football and Rugby League have come to their senses and have somewhat 'joined forces', realising that as the current 2nd and 3rd most popular non-Cricket sports in the country (exactly where they both sit depends on where you are polling), they share similar requirements for pitch sizes, and are working together to hurt the #1 sport, AFL, as well as hopefully destroying the #4 sport, Rugby Union.
Also Football (a "gentleman's game played by hooligans") vs. Rugby ("a hooligan's game played by gentlemen").
Also Rugby Union vs. Rugby League (yet another conflict with socio-regional roots).
Another reason for the Union vs. League rivalry is that many skills are transferable across the two sports, so players can and do switch codes, leading to accusations from fans of one about the other "stealing" star players and young talents.
Football in Australia has several ethnic based rivalries that plagued the National Soccer League and exist in some form today. They are the closest thing to true 'hooligan riots' to have happened in Australia.
The sport of MMA was founded on the idea of rivalries between various martial arts styles. The UFC was originally marketed as the ultimate test to determine which style is "the best." Even as the sport of MMA has evolved and fighters now crosstrain styles, there is still a lingering rivarly between fighters with a jiu-jitsu background and those with a wrestling background.
Fans of Pride versus fans of the UFC. During the early 2000s, Pride fans repeatedly insisted that Pride featured superior fighters, more exciting action and a better presentation. They often looked down their noses as UFC fighters, whom they considered second rate, and UFC fans, whom they considered ignorant. UFC fans often responded by accusing Pride fighters of using Steroids and criticizing the show's fondness for "freak show" matches. Things came to a head when the UFC bought Pride and shipped most of its big names into the Octagon, where they achieved mixed success. Three years after the last Pride show, internet fans are still dusting off the rivalry.
Even Horse Racing fans get into this. The biggest split is between those who think Man O' War was the Greatest Racehorse Ever (won 20 out of 21 starts, never finished below second place, would have won the Triple Crown if his owner had run him in the Derby, carried truly massive handicap weights) and those who think Secretariat is the Greatest Racehorse Ever (Triple Crown winner, won 16 out of 21 starts, with 3 second-place finishes, one third, and one fourth, broke pretty much every standing race and track record he came across including those of all three Triple Crown races, and perhaps most famously, broke the Belmont Park all-time track record by two-and-a-fifths secondsnote For non-racing fans, breaking a record by 1/5 of a second is the norm. 2/5 is a bit rarer. Two whole seconds is unheard of. while winning his Belmont by thirty. one. lengths). The arguments can get rather heated.
In Australian Rules Football, the AFL has its share of rivalries, with the biggest probably being the Mêlée à Trois between Carlton, Collingwood and Essendon fans. A famous incident occurred after Collingwood beat Essendon in the 1990 grand final, their first premiership win since 1958. When Carlton played Essendon the next year, Carlton's banner, riffing on Essendon sponsor TAC's slogan, read "If you lose to Collingwood in a Grand Final, you're a bloody idiot." (Carlton had beaten Collingwood in three grand finals between 1958 and 1990).
An incident that is not as famous but probably even more awesome occurred between fans of Williamstown and Port Melbourne in the old VFA competition. The two suburbs were located on opposite sides of the mouth of the Yarra River, and a massive old cannon battery sat on the Williamstown foreshore, pointing out to Port Phillip Bay. Williamstown fans managed to turn the cannon battery around so that it pointed directly at Port Melbourne's home ground.
Collingwood versus everybody else is a good one. Last grand final, there were the Saints supporters, the Collingwood supporters, and the AB Cs - the Anyone But Collingwood's.
Outside of Victoria, we have Adelaide vs Port Adelaide, and West Coast vs Fremantle. Supporters of either club generally think of the other club and their supporters as scum.
Within Formula 1 the bitterest rivalry is probably McLaren vs Ferrari; major bouts include 1976 (Hunt vs Lauda), 1985 (Alboreto vs Prost), 1998-2000 (Schumacher vs Hakkinen) and 2007-2008 (Alonso & Hamilton vs Raikkonen & Massa). The whole thing seems to have peaked in 2007 when the "Stepneygate" scandal led to McLaren getting booted out of the championship that year thanks to some stolen Ferrari documents, after which both parties apparently stepped back and asked themselves, "What the hell are we doing?" As Mike Doodson wrote for the grandprix.com website:
"There was also a time when McLaren men would have respected their rivals enough not to laugh at them. But after the happenings in recent months, that respect has gone. They laughed at them. At McLaren there is a new F-word these days. Ferrari."
Nowadays you still have the rivalry between McLaren and Ferrari fans, and those fans invoking Enemy Mine to go against a third team-Red Bull, who shot up to prominence in recent seasons.
As McLaren's racing credibility has gone down in racing years, these days it's mainly Ferrari vs. Red Bull, with Mercedes and Lotus joining in on occasion.
Any NHL teams within relative proximity of each other get a lot of this. It's even worse in Canada. Particularly bad rivalries include:
New Jersey/New York (Rangers, who of course, also fight with fellow city team Islanders)
Toronto/Everyone. It's not uncommon to see "Leafs Suck" on any hockey related topic, even if no one mentioned the Leafs
Ford vs. Holden in Australia's V8 Supercars (which spills over to their road cars, as mentioned in "other"). As the Sport In Australia page put it:
Your allegiance to one or the other is expected to be absolute and uncompromising. Mention that your favourite brand is BMW, for example, and you'll be thought of as a wanker at best, and a traitor to your country at worst. Wistful recollections about 'Godzilla' (the Nissan Skyline R32), however, are acceptable.
The NBA, of course, has Boston Celtics/Los Angeles Lakers. The two most storied franchises in the history of the sport, and still both perennial contenders in their respective conferences- meaning that they meet in the Finals a lot.
The state of Florida has Orlando Magic vs. Miami Heat. The Heat now have a whole new rivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers, since LeBron James controversially left the latter to join the former. Also, Texas has a three-way fight between Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.
Though with the decline of the Orlando Magic (post-Dwight Howard) and the Cavaliers still in the rebuilding stage, the true Fandom Rivalry is the Miami Heat vs Chicago Bulls. This is especially fueled by Lebron James vs. Derrick Rose debate.
Also currently, The original 1992 Dream Team vs. the 2012 lineup for the Olympics. Hoo boy, it doesn't help that Kobe was the one who started it.
Figure skating. First of all, many people will say it's not really a sport because it involves fancy costumes and music and subjective judging, and a lot of other people who point out the huge amount of athleticism required to be a figure skater, along with the sport's inclusion in the Winter Olympics. And of course within the figure skating fandom, there are huge fights over which skaters are best (often based on which countries they represent), and no matter who wins, someone is going to say that they didn't really deserve it. Also, the new judging system, the quadruple jump, and whether you love or hate ice dancing.
NBA (Basketball) vs. NHL (Hockey) hate each other like Rugby hates Soccer in other parts in the world. It gets to the point where Basketball fans in Boston would rather support the New York Rangers, than their own Bruins team, (vice versa, with Bruins fans rather support the Knicks than their Celtics).
This is probably because of an accident of scheduling: their seasons overlap pretty much perfectly (October-June), and they often play in the same venues (a hockey rink is a bit bigger than a basketball court, but only a bit): in nine of the 12 cities that have both NHL and NBA teams,note The nine cities are Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles. Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Phoenix all have separate venues for basketball and hockey. they have to share an arena. This naturally makes scheduling a pain in the arse and causes all manner of other problems, as well.
Houston vs. Dallas in anything. This extends beyond sports to business and barbecue.
Cricket has major international rivalries between Australia and England (The Ashes) and India and Pakistan. There is also a rivalry between fans of different formats of the game - Test and Limited Overs cricket. Limited Overs fans view test cricket as slow and stodgy, while test fans view the limited overs game as a bash-and-crash game for those who don't have the intelligence or attention span to appreciate the skill and strategy on display in tests. Twenty20 cricket especially is often referred to as (gasp!) "baseball".