February 5, 2012, Washington, DC: Allegiance. Rivalry. Loyalty. Pride. They are big, heavy, meaty words. They are words that will bring grown men to tears tonight while others strike a match, light a cigar, and exhale with a certainty that says they never had a shred of doubt in their hometown team. In this endless tale of two cities, several members of my family will feel the weight of defeat on tonight’s air in the town they call home. Several other members of my family with swell with pride in their winning city.
What compels us to take such distinct pride in our hometown team, whether rooting for big wigs like Boston or New York, or getting wrapped up in yesterday’s historic showdown in Columbia, Missouri? This weekend, the Washington Nationals announced they’d sell tickets early for a single series against the Phillies — but only to those who pay with a credit card tied to DC, Maryland or Virginia. Sick of overbearing Phillies fans encroaching on their DC turf, Nats COO Andy Feffer told Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, “Frankly, I was tired of seeing it.”
Great rivalries are about more than players and coaches and this year’s stats. Great rivalries take shape over time, growing deeps roots in their hometowns and sprouting generation upon generation of passionate fans. Like so many good stories, great rivalries are legends of the land.