The college rivalry. Indiana vs. Purdue. Michigan vs. Michigan State. Wherever you live, there’s a team that your school loves to hate. And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of good-spirited fun! Cheering for your team is important. It helps promote school spirit and pride, and it binds a collection of very different people together as a whole. However, the key word here is good-spirited.
Often times, we can take our team or school pride too far. It can be easy to get carried down the river by a current of hate, where instead of cheering FOR your team, you’re cheering AGAINST the other team. Have you ever noticed that at sporting events, the cheerleaders and the pep bands always start cheers when they notice that the crowd is feeling angry or yelling at the other team? Part of their job is to make sure that the crowd remains civil and respectful. It never looks good to hear a “the other school sucks” chant coming from the student section, or to see signs with messages like “girls at the other school are ugly.”
Now, I’m not against college rivalry altogether! It is an important and time honored tradition of attending school, or really supporting any team in general. The issue arises when our words about the other team turn degrading and hateful. It’s collective bullying. Sure, if you yell obscenities at the other team, they’ll most likely brush it off with little harm done. But you are wasting your time and energy on negative thoughts.
Who is the other team, really? Likely they are from the same state as you. They are also students. They are also taking classes and doing homework and worrying about how they will pay for their books. They want to win, and feel a passionate loyalty towards their team and their school. They get sad when they lose, and they feel happy when they win. They do their best to divide their time between classes and homework and jobs and practice and sleep and Netflix and seeing their family and friends. Wherever they are, and whatever you make think, they are getting a quality education at their school and enjoying themselves, just like you are.
The other team is not a mindless unit. They are a collection of unique individuals, just like your school is. It’s okay to hope that they lose – just know that they think the same of you. The negative energy you direct towards trying to bring the other team down will not do great things for your psyche. EVERY school has attractive and smart students who are doing their best to make their way in the world. Imagine how different it would be if we all toned down the anti-other team booing and focused more on cheering for our OWN team?
Feel free to continue supporting your college’s teams (especially in this time of basketball tournaments)! Feel free to continue disliking your rival! In fact, I encourage you to. Just keep in mind that there is no need to be cruel – the other teams are people too.