The Absurdness of Sports Rivalries

29 04 2012

Today I decided to get away from it all and go for a hike.  My love affair with hiking is something I stumbled upon recently in my quest to lose weight and get back into what I would classify as “respectable” shape.  Its been a great fit, and so far the only expense associated with this new-found hobby has been a backpack.

Arizona is fantastic for hiking, there are plenty of hills and mountains.  But the real benefit is once you get a little ways in the air, you can see unobstructed for a long ways.  I’ve also found it to be quite relaxing in my own way.  I’m around people all week at work, all night when I get home, so the ability to throw some lunch in a backpack, hike to a rock somewhere and be in limited contact with other people is somewhat appealing.  That is unless you run into a Yankee fan.

On most days my “lid” or hat of choice is one of three Boston Red Sox hats.  And I have to say more often than not it elicits some sort of conversation, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

At one of the view points on the trail today I was taking some pictures when out of nowhere, “How about that finish to the game last night?”  Now yes I am a fan of the Red Sox, but I don’t watch every single game.  In a season with 162 of them, there’s going to be periods when I miss a few.  But somehow I always feel like I’m letting a complete stranger down if I don’t at least engage them is Sox talk for a couple of minutes.  Luckily I heard about an amazing play the shortstop made from his knees a couple of nights before.  “No, I missed the game but what about the play Pedroia made from his knees the other night!”

Red Sox nation is like any other brotherhood, the only thing missing is a secret handshake.  That being said, for every ying there must be a yang or in this case a Yank.  Fans of the Red Sox and Yankees are predisposed to not really liking each other, even at the casual fan level.  For every engaging comment I get, there is a “Boo Red Sox, go Yankees” comment.

Towards the mid way point of the hike I somehow got on a similar rest schedule with two Yankee fans, which lead to the first “Boo Red Sox” comment of the day.  After several friendly yet derogatory exchanges I decided to play nice and hold a somewhat forced, normal conversation.  However, without the common bond of disdain between these two teams, there really isn’t much to talk about.

The trail I was on was not a loop, so basically you hike to the end turn around and hike back.  At the turnaround Yankee fan got about a five-minute head start on me as I finished up a granola bar and some Powerade.  As he walked by I wished him well and said, “Enjoy the rest of your day, don’t let me catch you, I know how you Yankees like to fade going down the stretch.”

After a forced uncomfortable laugh in the 92 degree Arizona sun, he knew it was on.  We were no longer hiking for our own well-being.  We were hiking as representatives of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

I kept pace with him almost the whole way back, constantly staying 3-5 minutes behind.  Like vintage Lance Armstrong in the alps, I was just waiting for the mountain portion of the trail to make my move.  I overheard him mention a calve problem which I knew would be problematic in the vertical climb.

Sure enough, half way up the mountain I caught up with him resting in the shade.  At that moment I caught my third or maybe fourth wind and put the hammer down on the throttle.  Heat stroke and nausea be damned.  I felt like the driver who decides to pass on the final pit stop at the Indy 500, bald tires and next to no gas, it’s ride or die time!

Of course it ended up being a blowout.  I think I finished like ten minutes in front.  There was no fanfare, no recognition and no yellow jersey, just personal pride.  As I sat at a shaded picnic table dumping water over my head, I saw him finishing, clearly favoring the bad calve.  We made eye contact and both acted as though nothing was on the line, but secretly knowing otherwise.

My name is Thomas Colvin and today I dominated a 70-year-old Yankee fan in the name of Red Sox Nation.

“Lets Go Red Sox!”

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2 responses

29 04 2012
Sean Breslin

I think rivalries are healthy, and they keep us alive. Everyone needs someone to dislike.

29 04 2012
Pete

haha I love it; if it helps I hate both the Sox and Yanks… Lets go Braves

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