Sports rivalry

Frazier vs Ali

Sport is about competition. Competition in turn breeds competitiveness, which breeds rivalry. All of this is good for sport. Rivalries bring an extra dimension
to competition. Winning becomes all the more important when the rivalry is local. In the UK we have many examples of local rivalry. In football we have,
the Manchester derbies, the Merseyside derbies, the Humberside derbies, the London derbies.

In Spain we have one of the fiercest rivalries in sport in Barcelona v Real Madrid. There have been the boxing rivalries of Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier, Manny Pacquiao v Juan Marquez ,and who can forget Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns.

Rivalries also sell. Sometimes the rivalry is hyped up and eventually overshadows the game, sport or match. In recent times, there have been ‘manufactured’ rivalries to introduce ‘hype’ This is particularly well done in the USA where events are hyped up to generate ticket sales, and press conference ‘fights or scuffles’ are staged to show the fans the intense ‘dislike’ between the competitors or teams.

The sportsmen at the centre of this rivalry are often pawns in a media game of chess, where the participants are ‘sacrificed’ for the bigger picture. Money.  Sensationalism sells. Anything which provokes a reaction sells, anything which pits A against B sells. This is what promotion and hype is all about. When interviewed, sportsmen and women are often asked leading questions,
which are intended to provoke the desired response, ( a leading question is one where the interviewer asks a question by giving the answer, to which the interviewee agrees). This tactic has been deployed for as long as there have been interviews.

Most sports people a a genuine respect for each other, and the rivalry is due to the fact that both or all have the same objective. Win and/or be the best. Even when they compete, they contain their emotions and any animosity they may have ( generally the animosity is not for the person they are competing against, it is the result of the desire to beat them). After competing, the vast majority of sportsmen and women share a handshake, hug, embrace, or kiss as a sign of respect towards each other, which is an essential component of all sport. Even boxers and mixed martial artists, whose sole purpose is to inflict damage on their opponents while in combat, congratulate each other when the fighting is over.

In conclusion, I understand that there will always be rivalry in sport, and that rivalry can often develop into genuine dislike or hatred, but the vast majority of rivalry is healthy and TV and the media will always be on hand to inject the animosity and hatred which they often need to sell sport to the public.


Part-time blogger with many views that need an outlet.