Giridhar Krishnan
Over the Edge

Prince George (CUP) ­— One of the beautiful things in any sport is the desire to win—a healthy dose of competition. The desire amongst all athletes, from world tournaments to local leagues, is to win. At times, there are rivalries so heated, competitors don’t mind if they lose the championship but cannot bear losing against a particular team. There can be a lot of reasons, like cultural setup or political relations. In turn, this makes those matches super heated. Popular rivalries act as advertising for various sports, such as the Blackhawks vs Canucks rivalry in the NHL.

As an athlete, how would one feel when facing a team that is projected as a larger than life archrival by the media and the spectators? It may be exciting when they end up on the winning side—it would generate unprecedented energy levels and support for a team. If specific athletes play a major part in the victory, they can be treated as kings. The media also haunts those who lose—just ask Luongo. Athletes who get berated by media and fans must keep a low-key social life, as some crazy fanatics could look at them as a traitor. The stress rising from a loss can be unimaginable. The only way to escape the stigma is by registering multiple victories against the rival.

It’s healthy to create competition, and having rivals is a healthy part of sport, as rivalries encourage more practice and determination. The problem arises when things are taken too personally. There have been spats witnessed all over the world in various sports because of taking rivalries too personally. Some athletes have ended up with bruised fists, black eyes, and lawsuits. Unpleasant incidents and athlete arrests have been splashed all over the media.

No sport desires these rivalries, and sport was not invented for this level of off-field competition. Athletes around the globe should realize they are the pride of their countries or clubs, and such actions by them dent the image of a whole nation. The media, too, should understand that players may be superheroes on field, yet off-field they are human—they need to respect celebrity privacy.

Sport rivalries could really be a healthy trend. Athletes should learn from the defeats as much as they enjoy the victories. This can be done if they respect their fellow sportsperson, admire their game, and learn from them. Encourage sport rivalries on field and off-field, and encourage each other for a positive world of sports.