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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Hogwarts Holy War: Even Wizards Have Rivalries

(Photo by: Mark Draper | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Students look forward to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University “Holy War” face-off each year. Fans dress in their respective colors, express undying support for teams and occasionally participate in name-calling. Let’s face it — the Cougars are the U’s greatest rival. The feud has history, but it also has striking similarities to another famous rivalry.

Gryffindors and Slytherins at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have an unprecedented amount of anger towards one another. Does this sound familiar? While the school of magic is fictional, the intense competition within its walls resembles that between the U and BYU.

The characters Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin, along with Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw, founded Hogwarts over a thousand years ago. Because of their disagreement over pure-blood and Muggle-born students, Gryffindor, Slytherin and their respective houses at Hogwarts became rivals. In the novels and films, the two adversaries have challenged one another for multiple generations, even though their shared affection for Hogwarts also reveals a deep friendship between them. While the rivalry between titular character Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy is arguably the most well-known conflict between Gryffindors and Slytherins in J.K. Rowling’s universe, the main enmity of her stories lies between the two houses as a whole. Two major competitions at Hogwarts — Quidditch and the House Cup — enable the intense competition. Sports and academics are the root of our modern contention with BYU, so it’s only fitting that we look at this rivalry from a fictional angle as well.

“Snitching” the Quidditch Cup

The Utes and the Cougars battle it out on the field each year. This shouldn’t be surprising, especially since football is the most talked-about sport on either campus. U fanatics wear garbs of red and white, while BYU diehards dress in blue and white. When watching a game, it’s completely evident who a person is cheering for based on their clothes. This trend is no different for the annual Quidditch Cup at Hogwarts. While the fictional games cycle through all four of the house teams, it’s Gryffindor and Slytherin that audiences are most privy to in Rowling’s books, movies and video games. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” gave an important first look into this lifelong competition when Harry and Draco go head to head as team seekers. Students, including Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley of Gryffindor, dedicate their attire to their team and flaunt it in the stands. Fans of both sides are expressive of their love and it truly shows. I don’t think that any “Harry Potter” fan can forget Luna’s lion head.

Sports also incite a good deal of trash-talk between teams. Gryffindors and Slytherins know this well, especially during pregame theatrics. Ron bears the brunt of this vocal abuse for his poor Quidditch talent in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Unsurprisingly, Draco’s friends spit the insults at Ron along with the other Slytherins. In the end, Ron proves them wrong with a sensational Quidditch win for Gryffindor. Some Slytherins probably wished for bodily injury on the other side in the story, even though the Quidditch games are all about entertainment.

The House Cup

In comparison to athletics, the U and BYU don’t care as much about one other’s academics. I’ve gone to the U for three and a half years and I’ve never heard much about its educational competitions against BYU. The opposite is true for students at Hogwarts, especially since the fictional school holds an ego-boosting incentive for the top dog in learning. The House Cup is awarded to the Hogwarts house with the most points, earned by academic success and professional student behavior, at the end of the school year. More or less, the house which participates in and exhibits the most accurate knowledge earns the cup. In “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Gryffindors steal the spotlight from Slytherins when Dumbledore awards Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville Longbottom large amounts of points for being awesome and saving the day. The Slytherins are unsurprisingly upset because of this, which fuels their competitive fire.

All in the Name of History

The strife between Gryffindor and Slytherin doesn’t begin with Harry and his friends. James Potter, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew each held powerfully ill feelings towards to the Slytherin House, especially against their peer Severus Snape. Snape returned their feelings, yet he reaped the consequences of the enmity. James Potter and his friends often bullied Snape during the school year. Competition is all fun and games, but when someone is potentially hurt by competition, it needs to end. Try to remember this in our feud with BYU.

We may go to different universities, but we are all the same: students receiving an education, participating in campus activities and searching for some fun. Sports — football in particular — give everyone an opportunity to live a little. The Holy War brings two campuses together in a battle on the playing field. Our intent is not to offend, but to revel in our athletic superiority. Let the U show BYU who’s boss and take home the win.

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