Opinion: Rivalry good for the community

By By Dani Kauerz

By Dani Kauerz

There are about 45 miles of interstate separating the University of Utah from Brigham Young University, and the close proximity is one of the reasons that we have the absolute joy (and sometimes pain) of participating in one of the country’s oldest and most intense football rivalries.

From differences in religion, each school having successful athletic programs and eras of dominance on each side, the rivalry between these two schools grows each year.

My contention is that it is not so much the long history, the conflict in religion or the successful programs, but the fans who make this rivalry so great. Each side takes being a fan to the absolute extreme with body painting, trash-talking and doing everything possible to support its team while trying to intimidate the other side.

Utah and BYU fans can’t even agree on the year that the rivalry started. Utah argues that it began in 1896, and Cougar fans agree that it started in 1922. No matter which year you choose to believe the rivalry started, the facts are undeniable — Utah’s dominating the battle. With the record of 52-32-4 (or 49-29-4 if you happen to see it from the Cougars perspective), the Utes are clearly winning this Holy (or unholy) War.

I have been a U fan as long as I can remember. Growing up in Bountiful, I always had to put up with BYU fans during the football and basketball games each year. In elementary school, I remember insisting on dressing up from head to toe in crimson apparel on game days, watching the game with my parents and either being really excited to go to school the next day (to rub it in the face of all those Cougar fans) or begging my mom to let me stay home the next day (because those “evil” Cougar fans would be doing the same to me).

Now that I am a student at the U, my love for our athletic teams and passion for the Utah/BYU rivalry has only grown.

This season in particular (being that it is our senior and final year at the U), my friends and I have taken special interest in cheering for our football team and taking stabs at BYU whatever chance we get. For example, it has become tradition that at each game this year we have made signs with various Utah slogans on them, and without fail for every game, we have had a “BYU SUCKS” sign (no matter who our opponent happens to be). We even traveled to UNLV with our “GO UTES” and “BOO BYU” signage. When people feel the need to inform us that we are not playing the Y, we simply ask them, “Well, does BYU suck?” and we quickly get an affirmative response and a chuckle.

I felt the need to ask a few Cougar fans their feelings on the rivalry (as much as pained me to do so). I spoke with Austin Cales, a sophomore at BYU, one of the school’s fans I had the pleasure of growing up with. I asked Austin what he felt made the rivalry between our respective schools one of the best in the nation. Austin said he feels that the tradition and pure hatred between the two programs is what makes the rivalry so great.

“I hate the U,” he said. “I hate the color red! I cheer for any team playing Utah and I will do anything to support the rivalry. I’m painted head to toe for any game between the two teams, whether there is rain, snow, wind or sun!”

Austin continues to do this even though I have told him many times that no one looks good as a smurf.

This rivalry is not all about hostile feelings and football games. The two schools work together during “Rivalry Week” to serve the community. Each year, the two schools use the intense feelings of competition between the two sets of fans to put on a food drive sponsored by each school’s alumni association. The two schools compete to see who can collect the most food and money during the week and donate it to the Utah Food Bank.

Whether you are a Utah or BYU fan, we can all be proud to be part of one of the oldest and most celebrated rivalries in college football history. We all need to get prepared to support our teams for what is sure to be an awesome battle and continuation of Utah’s Holy War. GO UTES!!!

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