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Red Oni Blue Oni / Sports

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  • In Formula One, several:
    • Michael Schumacher (red) to Mika Häkkinen (blue)
    • Juan Pablo Montoya (red) to Kimi Räikkönen (blue)
    • Eddie Irvine (red) to Rubens Barrichello (blue)
    • Lewis Hamilton (red) to Jenson Button (blue)
    • Fernando Alonso (red) to Sebastian Vettel (blue)
      • Vettel is, in turn, the Red Oni to Lewis Hamilton's Blue Oni.
    • Ayrton Senna (red) to Alain Prost (blue)
  • Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry (Red and blue respectively) coached one of the greatest games in American Football history against each other, the 1967 Championship game. Lombardi was described as a very passionate, hot-blooded coach who would celebrate every success and and mourn every setback with equal gusto, whereas Landry was very calm and stoic. Ultimately, Lombardi's Packers beat Landry's Cowboys 21-17. They also played the same red/blue roles when together as assistants for the NY Giants - Lombardi coaching the offense and Landry coaching the defense.
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  • Lombardi would be the Red Oni to his quarterback Bart Starr (Blue). Starr was typically meek and mild, but cool under pressure and tough as nails.
  • In the National Basketball Association:
    • Kobe Bryant (Red) of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tim Duncan (Blue) of the San Antonio Spurs were both hard-working, "greatest-of-all-time"-caliber superstars whose careers basically ran parallel to each other'snote , but the players themselves could not be more different in terms of public persona. Kobe was outspoken, fashionable, and had a breathtakingly athletic playstyle that won him a massive worldwide fanbase (plus major endorsement and business deals) as "The Black Mamba", but also gained somewhat of a reputation for being a selfish player who enjoyed playing the heel. On his end, Duncan's efficient and unflashy playstyle won him accolades as "The Big Fundamental", a super-consistent and team-first player who didn't need flashy moves to beat the best, but his low-key personality (including a tendency to eschew most endorsements) and rather unfashionable dress sense led to multiple jokes about him being the NBA's most boring superstar (and a long-running series in The Onion affectionately ribbing him for being too nice and sensible for the NBA).
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    • Karl Malone was the blue (blue-collar work-ethic, more reserved demeanor) to Charles Barkley's red oni (party animal, loud, very outspoken). Among the Utah Jazz, though, Malone was red (earthy Southerner) and John Stockton (serious Pacific Northwesterner) was blue.
  • Tennis has had several of these rivalries too:
    • Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert had a long-running Friendly Rivalry in the 1980s with Navratilova being the more openly emotional and passionate one and Evert gaining the nickname of "Ice Queen" for her cool and steely demeanor on court.
    • The choleric John McEnroe and the imperturbable Björn Borg had one of the most famous tennis rivalries in spite of its relatively short length, mainly because of their perfectly contrasting "fire and ice" personalities. Additionally, the robotic-seeming Ivan Lendl could be said to be a replacement blue oni for McEnroe after Borg's retirement.
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    • Venus Williams (blue oni) and Serena Williams (red oni).
    • The giggly, bubbly Monica Seles was the best-known and most successful rival to the cool-headed, stern-lipped Steffi Graf.
    • Rafael Nadal has a famous "passionate, bullheaded Lightning Bruiser who treats every match like a war of attrition vs. calm, graceful Combat Aestheticist who never seems to sweat and has perfect hair after playing 4 hours of tennis" rivalry with Roger Federer.
  • The NCAA has its share:
    • Ohio State (FUCK! THE! WOLVERINES!) and Michigan (alumnus Mike Wallace: "They say [Michigan] is intellectual and snobby. And I guess that's true.").
    • USC and UCLA. The Trojans in cardinal and gold tend to be more proud and arrogant as the red onis, while the Bruins in True Blue and gold tend to be more intellectual and nerdy.
    • City rivals Rice (blue) and Houston (red) fit this trope to a T, in both their student body profiles AND their respective choices of school colors.
    • As do Kentucky (blue) and Louisville (red), though more in general social dynamic than in student body profiles (especially in the 21st century).
    • Another set of city rivals fits in color, though not so much in other aspects: Cincinnati (red) and Xavier (blue). UC is public, located in a quite urban setting a little to the north of downtown, and constantly chafing at comparisons to Ohio State. XU is Catholic (specifically Jesuit), in a slightly more suburban setting a few miles away, and constantly chafing at comparisons to UC. Both, however, have similar academic reputations, with UC having a slightly better freshman class profile. Especially in men's basketball, the Bearcats and Musketeers cultivate a Red Oni image—to the point that their 2011 rivalry game ended in a bench-clearing brawl.
    • Georgia and Georgia Tech. The colors even match, as the Bulldogs (in red and black) are rough and rowdy sports fans while the Yellow Jackets (in white, gold, and navy) had a reputation for being intellectual "engine-nerds."
    • Arizona and Arizona State are both red-ish in both school colors (Arizona's is cardinal red and ASU's is maroon) and reputation (both are party schools) but Arizona is considered to be a better academic institution and also has navy blue as its other school color, while ASU's second is gold.
    • The three major Texas public colleges fit a slightly mutated version of this trope. The University of Texas is the high profile, upper class, some would say snobbish blue oni. Texas Tech is the hot-blooded, unsophisticated, very red scrappy. And Texas A&M is kind of the purple middle man, who can fill either role depending on which of the other two they're facing next...
    • Utah (crimson and white) and BYU (blue and white) fit their colors well. BYU, as a church-operated school, comes across as serious and a bit aloof. Utah has taken on the role of the boisterous counterpart by default, but some fans really get into it. A lot of it is affected, though, since BYU and Utah are very similar academically (though because of enrollment caps BYU is harder to get into).
    • School colors also hold true for University of Nevada, Reno (blue and silver) and University of Nevada, Las Vegas (scarlet and gray). UNR is older, more academically respected and started branding their sports as "Nevada" after UNLV became prominent, hoping to distance themselves from their rival and emphasize that they're older. UNLV is larger and has had frequent run-ins with the NCAA, especially in its most prominent sport of men's basketball. And it extends to the cities as well: Vegas as a flashy party town, Reno as more sedate and humble.
    • This trope can be seen even in lower NCAA divisions. One especially notable example is Henderson State (red, and nicknamed Reddies, no less) and Ouachitanote  Baptist (purple, but fits the blue role like a glove), two Division II schools separated only by a two-lane highway in Arkadelphia, Arkansas (permanent population a touch over 10,000). Their football rivalry, known as the Battle of the Ravine (from the ravine that runs through both campuses), was called "college football's most intimate rivalry" by Sports Illustrated in 2019. The SI piece also noted the contrasts between the two schools—Henderson State is public and "stereotypically fratty" (with OBU fans sometimes calling it "Heathen State") and Ouachita Baptist is private and "stereotypically snooty".
    • Even though they both use green as their main school color, North Dakota State (land-grant, Red Oni) and North Dakota (traditional flagship, Blue Oni).
    • Some college archrivals have the proper contrasting colors but generally avert this. Harvard (crimson) and Yale (blue) are both very elite and exclusive, with Harvard probably having a very slightly higher reputation. UC Berkeley (blue and gold) and Stanford (cardinal and white) have similar reputations, with Stanford, as a private school, being a touch more elite. But the notorious antics of the Stanford Marching Band are firmly in Red Oni territory.
  • Boston Red Sox (blue collar, ironically) and New York Yankees (metropolitan). Like Dr. Manhattan, everyone is a hot-blooded underdog compared to the New York Yankees.
  • The Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers (just for color, they both used to be blue).
  • The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, embodied by the playing styles and personalities of their respective superstars: the Caps' Alex Ovechkin (red) and the Pens' Sidney Crosby (blue). Appropriately, Washington's primary color IS red, while Pittsburgh used blue as its primary color until 1980 and recently brought it back for their alternate jersey.
  • Eternally present in European Football Clubs, especially as most local rivals tend to wear Red and Blue to contrast each other intentionally.
    • In Italy's Serie A, AC Milan wears red, and they're a passionate club, with a fanbase mostly from the lower class. Inter wears blue and their policy is calculating, with their devoted fans coming from the upper class. Another example is with city capital arch-rivals AS Roma and SS Lazio; AS Roma play in deep red and have a fanbase mostly coming from Rome's city center, while SS Lazio wear sky blue and largely draw their fanbase from the outskirts of Rome.
    • Merseyside's Liverpool FC and Everton FC play in red and blue respectively. Liverpool's supporters also have the incredibly passionate theme song ''You'll Never Walk Alone''.
    • Manchester United and Manchester City. United is the much more fiery one, given their huge fanbase (accounting to 5% of the world's population) and the number of silverware they accumulated over the years. City is much more closer to the upper class Mancunians and residents of the city proper, in contrast to United's wider demographic, though their recent success has seen them attract a larger fanbase throughout the world (though not to the same extent as United).
    • Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, also known as the North London Derby. Arsenal is Red, with a very diverse multiethnic fanbase. Tottenham is Blue and is associated with the conservative Jewish population of London.
    • Celtic and Rangers, also known as the Old Firm. Despite playing in green, Celtic are the red oni and represent the Irish Catholics of Glasgow whilst Rangers are the blue oni, play in royal blue and represent the British protestant establishment. Both represent the sectarian divisions of Glasgow and Northern Ireland. Also, Celtic fans were traditionally Labour voters whilst Rangers fans were traditionally Conservative voters.
  • A teammate example: Italy's and AC Milan's midfield duo, the fiery, aggressive Gennaro Gattuso and the cool, efficient Andrea Pirlo.
  • The Paris Saint-Germain strike pairing of the prideful, explosive Neymar and the calm, methodical Edinson Cavani. This dichotomy notoriously caused quarrels between the two, who have even argued over who is going to kick a penalty between them.
  • As of late, Napoli's defensive duo of Kostas Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly can be best described as this: Manolas is the feisty, combative Red to Koulibaly's serene, collected Blue. The fact that Manolas used to play for AS Roma - whose main color is deep red - before joining the light blue-wearing Napoli further distinguishes the two.
  • Another teammate example: Chicago Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Together the two are the face of the team and, to an extent, the NHL as a whole. Kane tends to be a bit more excitable both on and off the ice while Toews exhibits a much more cool and collected personality.
  • In English football:
    • Luis Suárez, the fiery Uruguayan with a penchant for spectacular goals and a knack for being controversial, is the red oni to the blue oni of Sergio Agüero, the methodical Argentine who's a cold-blooded, clutch finisher with sound fundamentals. This becomes even better when you look at the jerseys of their clubs. (Luis Suárez - Liverpool, then Barcelona, Sergio Agüero - Manchester City)
    • Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez during their days at Arsenal. Özil is the cooler, less expressive and less flashy player, who prefers passes and assists. His cooler side leads to him being accused of not caring, just because he tends to show no real emotion or frustration when compared to the rest of his team, despite him putting in one of the highest work rates of anyone. Alexis Sánchez, on the other hand, is the flashy, expressive, emotive winger who is not afraid to let his feelings be made known, and has caused major transfer drama as a result, eventually culminating in a move to rivals Manchester United.
  • The two most popular footballers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The prideful Ronaldo is the red oni to the humble Messi’s blue oni. Appropriately, Ronaldo’s national team (Portugal) kit is red, while Messi’s (Argentina) is sky blue.
  • Dallas Cowboys (blue and silver) and That Team Formerly Known as the Redskins (burgundy and gold). Coincidentally, Washington is currently one of the only two teams that has an official marching band, and before the "Redskins" name was dropped in 2020, was one of the few to have its own fight song ("Hail to the Redskins"; the song is now in limbo).
  • Another NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, had a pair of outside linebackers during most of The New Tens who sort of fit. LaMarr Woodley was the Red Oni and James Harrison was the Blue Oni. LaMarr is more talkative, more likely to celebrate (every sack he records is followed by the most awkward flying side kick ever witnessed), and generally more energetic. James is a quiet, not-quite-right-in-the-head fellow with a penchant for perpetrating unspeakable violence with little noticeable emotion.
  • The two NFL teams in the NYC area: The Giants tend to be the Blue Oni (reserved, hard-working players in a clear-cut meritocracy where production on the field is all that matters) to the Jets' Red Oni (even though the Jets actually wear green, and the Giants have more red in their color scheme than the Jets do), who tend to have a lot of bluster. This came to a head in 2011 when both teams faced each other on Christmas Eve: the Jets talked a lot of trash before the game, even covering up the Giants' mural of previous Super Bowl championships (both teams share the stadium, but as the designated "home" team, the Jets had control over the stadium itself). The Giants didn't respond much to this... at least in the media. On the other hand, they completely destroyed the Jets, ending their playoff hopes and starting the Giants on a journey to their fourth Super Bowl title.
  • The two longtime faces of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady (now in Tampa Bay) is the red and Bill Belichick (still head coach) is the blue. Tom Brady is a fiery leader, and before his departure in the 2020 offseason often served as The Heart of the team, even being one of the main motivators in the late stages of the game when they were down. He is also very expressive, routinely high-fiving other players (when they actually return them) and even outright jumping for joy when Malcom Butler made his game-winning interception against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, and that's not even counting his social media activity. Bill Belichick, however, is... not. His unflappable exterior has reached memetic levels, he refuses to play the social media game his quarterback does, is often seen as a Stop Having Fun Guy due to his incredible focus on winning (he once banished a player to the Cleveland Browns for asking for more money, after which the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl), and even once spent the Super Bowl Parade trying to start a "No Days Off!" chant.
  • Another NFL rivalry, the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, carries this as a color scheme - and while the teams are essentially very similar, their coaches during the first part of the 2010s represent the trope perfectly. Pete Carroll of the 'Hawks has a jovial, bohemian vibe, is guarded but amiable with the media, and plays it cool on the sidelines, while the Niners' Jim Harbaugh (now back in college coaching at his alma mater of Michigan) is a self-admitted "jackhammer" known for his on-field histrionics, contentious-but-quotable press conferences, and habit of taking snaps with his team in practice. It helps that they legitimately despise each other.
  • For most of the 2010s, the Seattle Seahawks were known for two players. On one hand you have the brash, outspoken, hype machine that is cornerback Richard Sherman. On the other hand you have the calm, cool and collected quarterback known as Russell Wilson.
  • This trope is pretty common among NFL head coaches, past and present, and the differences are pretty obvious, but to name a few notable examples:
    • For the Blue Onis: Paul Brown, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Tom Flores, Bud Grant, Bill Belichick, Tony Dungy, Dan Reeves.
    • For the Red Onis: Mike Ditka, Bill Parcells, Don Shula, Jon Gruden, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, Sean Payton, Jim Mora, Jim Harbaugh, George Allen, Jerry Glanville, Sam Wyche.
  • The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers of the late '80s were an inversion. The blue-coloured Oilers were young and high-scoring, led by the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri, while the red-coloured Flames played more of a defensive, tight-checking game.
  • Sports/sports culture in general: American football is red to baseball's blue.
    • Hunting is red to fishing's blue.
    • American Football is red to association football (AKA soccer)'s blue (its fandom notwithstanding). Australian football is somewhere in the infrared spectrum.
  • In Indy Car:
    • The very jovial, talkative, and friendly Hélio Castroneves is the red oni to the much more calm, stoic, and businesslike blue oni of Scott Dixon, who beat him out for the 2013 championship. Ironically, Castroneves' normal livery is a black and white one (with the occasional red and yellow or blue and white livery depending on the event), whereas Dixon always drives a red car.
    • Alex Zanardi ('96-'98) and Juan Pablo Montoya ('99-'00) and Jimmy Vasser made an excellent case of Red Oni/Blue Oni teammates en route to winning four CART titles in five years.
  • Brazil had in their women's basketball Hortência (Red) and Paula (Blue), who had sort of a rivalry (they noted that every tournament ended with a final between their teams) but then turned into a Friendly Rivalry in the national team, that even beat Team USA in the 1994 World Championship - two years before losing to them in the Olympic Games final, but the silver medal was the first for Brazilian basketball in over 30 years!
  • In New Zealand rugby, the Auckland Blues (team colour: blue and white) and the Canterbury Crusaders (team colour: red and black) invert this trope. The Blues play with attacking flair but are prone to errors, whereas the Crusaders are traditionally known for their structured plays.
  • From the 80's Chess, Anatoly "It"s important for players to avoid displaying emotions" Karpov versus Garry "I am emotional and ready to take risks" Kasparov.
  • In German football, the passionate, attacking Borussia Dortmund (red, although they wear yellow) to the relatively calmer Schalke 04 (blue.)
  • In the Philippine Basketball Association, Barangay Ginebra (red) and Star (blue), especially when their rivalry was just heating up in the late '80s-early '90s. Ginebra, with matching red uniforms, was known as a blue-collar team in the fashion of the Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys" of the same era, and has been known as the "team of the masses" since the mid-'80s. Star, then called Purefoods and wearing matching blue uniforms, was a team of young, good-looking, yet talented "glamour boys" and generally appealed to more upscale PBA fans.
  • In golf, Arnold Palmer and later Lee Trevino (both red) to Jack Nicklaus (blue).
  • This is fairly evident in a number of rivalries in mixed martial arts (MMA), and especially the UFC. Often one of the fighters will be more aggressive, more of a trash-talker, and more of an upstart, compared to the other's quieter, more collected, more technical approach:
    • Jon Jones (red) vs. Daniel Cormier (blue)
    • Conor McGregor (red) vs. Nate Diaz (blue), though in most other rivalries it is the Diaz brother who is the red, e.g. Nick Diaz (red) vs. Georges St. Pierre (blue)
    • Chael Sonnen is the red to his opponent's blue.
    • Michael Bisping (red) vs. Georges St. Pierre (blue)
    • Tyron Woodley (red) vs. Stephen Thompson (blue)
    • Dominick Cruz (red) vs. Team Alpha Male (blue). Fittingly, whenever a Team Alpha Male fighter would fight Cruz, they would fight in blue shorts. Though this began to reverse during the actual fight of Garbrandt-Cruz.
  • The 2013 and 2017 America's Cups pitted Team USA's Hot-Blooded, extroverted Australian captain Jimmy Spithill (red, and appropriately red-headed) against the steely, stoic New Zealanders Dean Barker and Peter Burling (blue). Even the New York Times noted their personality contrasts.
  • During the 2017 and 2018 NFL seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Carson Wentz (red) and backup QB Nick Foles (blue), with Carson being a redhead, too.

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