Rivalries centered around sports are present in all groups and traverse worldwide
boundaries. But they’ve never been viewed as unnecessary or taking up too much energy. American football remains a central focus of rivalries spanning both the country, including the well-known Brawl of the Wild.
Beginning in 1897, UM and MSU have had a tradition of facing off against each other in the famous Cat-Griz football game. But is the fanfare around this event really worth the hype?
Though football is one of the most popular games in America, especially among college rivalries, it is not all it’s cracked up to be. This yearly display demonstrates a bunch of men ramming their heads into each other for the sole purpose of nothing. Football stole its name from a completely different sport and is really just a colonized version of rugby. There are other, more interesting, sports that have the same exact rivalry and are actually interesting to watch, but they never get as much attention as football does.
The Brawl of the Wild will receive ESPN coverage, and it will surely provide the university with economic and social capital for a while. But at this point in the rivalry, the event seems more like a spectacle to build each university’s status than a diverse display of challenging athletics. There are so many different sports that engage at the same level of the rivalry without equal coverage — and those sports should be promoted just as heavily as football.
Within the last nine months, there have been record turnouts for Cat-Griz volleyball and a high turnout for men's tennis, but there’s is still a long way to go for other sports to get the same recognition as football. There is an opportunity here to encourage students to participate in more than just a single avenue of athletics. Maybe this rivalry could act as a catalyst for increasing engagement in other athletic events. Football is so highly commercialized and hyped, but if people watched it for what it truly was, then it would be less appealing to invest one’s time and attention in.
If universities can successfully wrap students into football as a focal point of college, then anything can happen if they choose to promote another sport. Is it the sport itself or the status surrounding the event that makes the Brawl of the Wild appealing? In the end, it does not matter if football is actually fun to watch or not. It has become America’s chosen sport.
This is a rivalry that spans multiple different sports and academic fields, but football is where the rivalry is ultimately hashed out. This will not be changed overnight, but other sports deserve just as much attention as football gets when it comes to the never-ending rivalry between the bobcats and the grizzlies.