Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.

~Bill Shankly

I love this quote. It wasn’t until decided to use it in my blog that I found out something interesting…the quote is actually about soccer….European football! No matter, the quote still holds magic if you are part of a football (or futbol!) family and nothing gets a football family supercharged like a single word……rivalry. It could be shouted from the rooftops, whispered with quiet, sweet seduction, written on a poster, posted to Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, it does not matter. That word alone is enough to whip even the sweetest old church going lady into frenzy. Rivalries divide families and ruin friendships. Married couples don’t speak for days after brutal wins/losses. There’s something magical about watching your team beat the tar out of the team you hate more than anything else in this world. On the flipside, when you’re on the wrong end of that beating, rarely is there a lower feeling as a fan than watching your team walk into a locker room, shoulders slumped, grown men with tears flowing and knowing it got away. It’s even worse when the post game celebration takes place at your house. This year, our school’s biggest rival came into our stadium riding a 2 game winning streak against us. Our beloved trophy had been held hostage at “that school” for far too long. I shared tears of agony at their stadium last year when the trophy slipped from our grasp for the second consecutive time. I remember feeling relieved that my husband had to ride the bus home because I wasn’t sure I could handle 4 angry fans in one vehicle. My daughter and I were back in “that town” a few months later and stopped for lunch on the way home. Her observation was that the town wasn’t good for anything because, “Even their McDonalds is awful!” Ah, out of the mouths of babes….

Fast forward back to this year and our team was ready. The stadium was packed, the place was ROCKIN’…..that’s another part of the rivalry beauty. Nothing brings fans out of the woodwork better than a rivalry game. Or makes them crazier. But I digress. The game was close for most of the evening; leads were traded, I paced, I shouted, I said things I probably shouldn’t be proud of. And then, with 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter, a magical thing happened….it was evident that “that other school” was not going to be able to pull off a comeback! As we made our way to the field, I was getting hugs and high fives from alumni, teachers, fans, people I didn’t even KNOW. As the clock wound down and we began to celebrate, one of our alumni stormed the field, snatched the trophy and triumphantly ran onto the field with the trophy high over his head. The clock had barely hit zero when the fans and families began to pour onto the field. “That team” began the dejected walk back to the locker room as we celebrated. I don’t mind admitting that I shed a LOT of tears that night. I hugged my husband, the rest of the staff, players, parents, cheerleaders and Lord knows who else. Photos were taken from every angle of the scoreboard and posted to social media accounts as quickly as they were snapped. Players kissed the trophy, alumni raised it high, coaches posed with whoever was there. It was magical. I never wanted that celebration to end and for awhile, I wasn’t sure it was going to! Finally people began to disburse and we made our way to the post game celebration. Every win feels amazing. But there’s something about a RIVALRY win. Knowing that for at least the next 12 months, you’re the champ. The best. Bragging rights and all that. There is nothing like it.

I should add right here that our record so far is a respectable 4-2. The “other team”? 0-5. Rock on!


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