Boise State lacks a real sports rivalry

Before Thursday’s football game with Brigham Young University (BYU), KBOI Channel 2 news was on campus asking students if they thought there was a rivalry between Boise State and BYU. The answer to that question very quickly should have been “no.”

Why would it be? Did we ever care about BYU before we played them at football? Can you possibly argue we have strong enough ties with BYU to really care about anything other than beating them in football?

It takes more than having an opposing team on your schedule consistently and being in a relatively convenient geographic position to constitute a real rivalry. All scheduling means is BYU fits into our logistics well. It makes sense, but it doesn’t mean anything.

Rivalry can be a friendly motivator in sports, but if all it took to establish a rivalry was showing up more than once for a game then we would be rivals with pretty much every team we play. When everyone is your rival, nobody is.

As Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald writes, “some rivalries last forever, mostly because of geography and shared history.”

Just think how awesome it would have been if BYU fans had shown up to the blue turf talking smack and getting rowdy. Not necessarily mean but just driven to beat the Broncos for whatever reason. Boise fans would have been driven to show them up. Maybe it would even have been the seeds of a proper rivalry, but instead they showed up and were very polite. Then we won the game.

USA Today notes the Bronco’s have played the Cougars only twice before in Provo and they have 12 games scheduled. Nothing about our games with BYU are really notable.

If all BYU games fall on a Thursday it will become the most hated game on the calendar since nobody enjoys having a football game and class on the same day. But that isn’t a rivalry either, that’s just a grudge.

Some may remember when Boise State and the University of Idaho (UI) were in the same conference and we played good ol’ state-versus-state rivalry games and it was a lot of fun.

It was our little slice of good competition like the “civil war” of Oregon State University Beavers versus University of Oregon’s Ducks.

A real rivalry used to exist between the College of Idaho and Boise Junior College back in the 1950s when Boise students would make excursions onto the C of I campus and steal the bell off their football field. In turn C of I students would come to BJC and take the school’s sign.

Although the antics were illegal and that sort of behavior is not encouraged, it was real competition between schools and not just some people saying we have a rivalry based on the fact that we have competed.

Many Boise State students have friends who currently attend UI will note they are quick to argue—often without any sort of prompt—every imaginable angle as to why their school is so
much better.

No matter how silly the argument is it is just a reminder of how some people out there just want to beat us at everything and it doesn’t really even matter if it’s football because we have that tradition of
competition.

Rivalries do not have to come in the form of sports. They can be for academic competitions too.

Let’s just let these fun friendly competitive traditions develop on their own and stop trying to invent them.

About the author  ⁄ Zachary Chastaine

Zachary Chastaine

Zachary studies English technical writing at Boise State and previously wrote for the Portland State Vanguard. An enthusiast of downhill mountain biking, craft beers and automotive racing Zach hopes to continue his writing studies overseas at Oxford Brookes.