A sports rivalry is intense competition between athletic teams or athletes. This pressure of competition is felt by players, coaches, and management, but is perhaps felt strongest by the fans. The intensity of the rivalry varies from a friendly competition on one end to serious violence on the other that, in one case (the Football War), was suggested to have led to military conflicts. Owners typically encourage rivalries as they tend to improve game attendance and television ratings for rivalry matches, but a rivalry that gets out of control can lead to fighting, hooliganism, rioting and some, with career-ending or even fatal consequences. Often the topic of sports rivalries is as heated and controversial as politics and religion.
Rivalries stem from various sources. Simple geographic proximity as well as frequent meetings in important games can lead to rivalries. Games between two rivals of close geographical proximity are usually called a local derby, or simply just derby (UK: /ˈdɑːrbi/; DAR-bee or US: /ˈdɜːrbi/; DER-bee); a sporting fixture between two teams from the same town, city or region, particularly in association football. The phrase most likely originated from The Derby, a horse race in England, founded by the 12th Earl of Derby in 1780, since at least as early as 1840 'derby' has been used as a noun in English to denote any kind of sporting contest. Another widely reported theory, though not accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary, is that the phrase came about from the city of Derby itself. It was renowned as the site of a chaotic and exuberant game that involved the whole town and often resulted in fatalities. The goals were at Nuns Mill in the north and the Gallows Balk in the south of the town, and much of the action took place in the River Derwent or the Markeaton Brook. Nominally the players came from All Saints' and St Peter's parishes, but in practice the game was a free-for-all with as many as 1,000 players. A Frenchman who observed the match in 1829 wrote in horror, 'if Englishmen call this play, it would be impossible to say what they call fighting'. The traditional Shrovetide football match is commonplace in the town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire."
Social and political tensions can also be played out by proxy in a sports rivalry, as when the Indo–Pakistani political conflict spills over to an India–Pakistan cricket match, or when Glasgow's sectarian differences are expressed in the Celtic–Rangers derby (known as the Old Firm derby). The Old Firm is regarded as the biggest and most fierce rivalry in sports. Rivalries of the friendlier sort are common between college athletic programs in the United States and often involve pranks that rival student bodies play on each other, such as stealing the other school's mascot or painting school colors somewhere on the opposing school's campus.
^Claiming his title was stolen, an emotional Oliva challenged Schwarzenegger to a posedown at the 1973 Mr. International and to a weightlifting contest on TV's The Tomorrow Show, but the future California governor kept his cool and declined both duels. The Myth and the Oak's Nixon-era rivalry remains one of the greatest in bodybuilding history.Merritt, Greg. "15 biggest controversies and shocking moments in bodybuilding history" (February 2006).
^They fought three times with two of the brawls considered among the greatest fights in history..."The 10 greatest rivalries". ESPN. 4 January 2000. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
^"Pictures of Coppi and Bartali are seen just as often. They hang in cycling shops, butcher shops, banks and shoe stores. The images and what they stood for have not been forgotten. The riders once divided the country, and they held social and political significance."JULIET MACUR (18 May 2009). "Long-Ago Rivalry Still Stirs Passion at the Giro d’Italia". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
^"Obree's early career was marked by his rivalry with Englishman Chris Boardman in the mid-1990s. But for Obree to reach that position to challenge the Olympic gold medal winner was a victory of determination over adversity."Gordon Cairns. "Graeme Obree: Homegrown Hero". BBC News. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
^"At the Albertville Olympics in 1992 the Russian pairs came third and fourth in the ice dance, but this was purely a precursor to another kind of rivalry. Usova and Zhulin were an item, Grischuk and Platov were not. After the Olympics, Usova walked into Spago's restaurant in Hollywood, caught her husband sharing a cocktail with Grischuk, and promptly punched her rival in the face."Matt Tench and Jamie Jackson (3 November 2002). "The top 10 greatest rivalries in the history of sport". The Observer (London). Retrieved 16 February 2010.
^This spring marked the 20th anniversary of one of the best classics series ever in American horse racing: 1989, featuring Sunday Silence and Easy Goer. Although well-publicized at the time and compared to the rivalry of Alydar and Triple Crown winner Affirmed, the contests between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer deserve to be remembered on their own merits."Racing History: Sunday Silence and Easy Goer". Hold Your Horses Magazine. Retrieved 13 April 2010.[dead link]
^He won what many historians consider to be the greatest Isle of Man race of all time, the 1967 Senior TT. That event pitted him against archrival Giacomo Agostini. "Ago," on the MV Agusta, faced off against "Mike the Bike," on the blazingly fast but ill-handling four-cylinder Honda."Mike Hailwood". Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
^Klaus Ewald (24 July 2006). "Pedro Rodríguez". Grand Prix Journal Online. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
^"RACING RIVALS: LAUDA VS. HUNT" (Classic Racing Rivalries: Keke Rosberg vs. Gilles Villeneuve). Vintage Motorsport. March–April 2010.
^A great rivalry existed at the height of Sheene's career between him and American racing legend Kenny Roberts. A big show was sometimes made of the pair's battles, which was depicting as a bitter fight between two racers who almost hated one another."Barry Sheene". Retrieved 12 February 2010.
^Preston Lerner (August 2009). "Great Rivalries: Didier Pironi vs. Gilles Villeneuve". Automobile Magazine.Missing or empty |url= (help)
^Rainey's intense rivalry with fellow American and 1993 world champ Kevin Schwantz was the stuff of legends. Their careers progressed together as did their mutual hatred of each other and whether it was in American national races, the Transatlantic Trophy in England or the GPs, they only cared about beating each other, even if that meant coming last and second last.Stuart Barker (18 May 2009). "I Love The 90s". Visor Down. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
^"How Formula One today could do with a rivalry as bitter and compelling as this one. Two of the greatest drivers of all time, pitted repeatedly against one another. Stylistically they were different, but essentially it was personal."Matt Tench and Jamie Jackson (3 November 2002). "The top 10 greatest rivalries in the history of sport". The Observer (London). Retrieved 16 February 2010.
^Foyt and Andretti were never friends, but neither were they enemies. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, by way of contrast, were oil and water. Or maybe gunpowder and a match is a more apt characterization. Their relationship was contentious enough while they were on separate teams, but paired together at the height of McLaren's F1 supremacy, they formed the ugliest – and most perversely compelling – rivalry in motorsports history."Great Rivalries: Racing's Best Rivalries". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
^Alone at the top – For 2000, Millen's biggest rival, Nobuhiro Tajima will not be competing in the Unlimited Class. Instead, Tajima will bring a new vehicle to the Pikes Peak Open Class. While the overall title is still up for grabs, the six-year rivalry for the class title has ended."Above the tree line – Rod Millen Shoots For 10-Minute Barrier". motorsport.com. 29 June 2000. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
^That tussle of 1994 between Russell and Fogarty was the making of the sport as a spectacle that could attract millions. The Brit vs Yank, hard-knock lad vs spoilt brat head-to-head the media constructed around the 1994 season guaranteed an unprecedented level of exposure for Superbikes.Kevin Sampson (26 May 2001). "Ordinary hero". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 April 2010.
^Vettel won four world titles in a row between 2010 and 2013 at Red Bull Racing, with Alonso finishing second on three occasions – two of the titles narrowly won in finales, denying Alonso his third title. Then as Alonso left Ferrari in late 2014, Vettel signed for the team as his replacement. The rivalry was fierce, yet respectful with few on-track clashes.Andrew Benson (25 November 2012). "Vettel and Alonso's rivalry becomes one with real teeth". BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
^The comparisons are inevitable. Both are Italian; both are multitime world champions fighting for the MotoGP title, as well as the favor of the mercurial and powerful Italian press. Their every move is studied, forcing both to seek refuge in foreign countries."Forever In The Shadow". Sports Rider Magazine. February 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
^"Surpassing these and others is a rivalry forged not so much out of jealousy or bitterness, as much as it was two giants immersed in a supreme struggle for supremacy, because winning is the name of the game. To this observer, the greatest NASCAR rivalry of all time was the ongoing tussle between the man they called “The King,” and the ever sly “Silver Fox.""They Call Him "The King," Part III- The Greatest Rivalry". 27 December 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
^"This rivalry was defined by the last lap of the 1979 Daytona 500. Cale Yarborough was fighting Donnie Allison for the lead when, as Yarborough recalls, he was shoved into the infield grass. He somehow steered his car back onto the track and slammed into the side of Allison's car, spinning both out."David Newton (29 August 2008). "Top rivalries marked by crashing cars, flying fists and swinging helmets". ESPN. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
^"The hatred Allison and Yarborough shared for Waltrip was no secret in the garage. "We had been friends, and I had helped him early in his career," Allison said. "In fact, I had built cars for him before he got into the Winston Cup stuff. But he didn't want to be friends. It just kept us from cooperating on any kind of an effort that would have been good for both of us.""David Newton (29 August 2008). "Top rivalries marked by crashing cars, flying fists and swinging helmets". ESPN. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
^"Tennis has thrown up more than its fair share of compelling rivalries, but none compares with this perfect contrast of talent and temperament. Bjorn Borg: brilliant baseliner, cool Swede, unflappable and sexy. John McEnroe: sublime volleyer, brash New Yorker, volatile."Matt Tench and Jamie Jackson (3 November 2002). "The top 10 greatest rivalries in the history of sport". The Observer (London). Retrieved 16 February 2010.
^"If Borg v McEnroe was brief but glorious this was protracted and nearly as good. Again there was the contrast in styles, but this time between two players who dominated for more than a decade."Matt Tench and Jamie Jackson (3 November 2002). "The top 10 greatest rivalries in the history of sport". The Observer (London). Retrieved 16 February 2010.