OT: Greatest rivalries in sports

Submitted by MGoCooper on November 18th, 2011 at 3:19 PM

After watching the special on Auburn vs Alabama on ESPN, I was thinking about the greatest rivalries in sports, not just college football. Although strangely enough, college football seems to have quite a few of the top rivalries in sports. So, for speculation purposes, I made my Top 10 rivalries in sports, and these are in order of the fiercest.


1. Michigan vs TSIO

2. Redsox vs Yankees

3. Army vs Navy

4. Auburn vs Alabama

5. North Carolina vs Duke

6. Nicklaus vs Palmer

7. Borg vs McEnroe 

8. Giants vs Dodgers

9. Harvard vs Yale

10. Barcelona vs Real Madrid




November 18th, 2011 at 3:24 PM ^

I feel like Celtics Lakers would have to jump in there somewhere. Also, individual rivalries have a limited time to them, don't know why they would count as the greatest in sports. The great ones are ongoing, IMO.


November 18th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

On a global scale, Barcelona vs Real Madrid is probably much bigger than Michigan-Ohio State. Here in England, I'm probably one of only a handful of people who will care about next week's game, whereas Barca vs Real is watched all over the world by pretty much anyone who loves "soccer".

But if you're talking about just American sports, or how just  the American population views the rivalry, then Michigan-Ohio State is number one.



November 18th, 2011 at 3:54 PM ^

Soccer Rivalries (just some of them, they're all fierce in their own right):
Manchester United-Liverpool
Manchester United-Manchester City
Real Madrid-Barcelona
AC Milan-Inter Milan
AC Milan-Juventus
Juventus-Inter Milan

I forgot Rangers-Celtic which is a HUGE rivalry in Scotland. It's also Protestants vs Catholics.


November 18th, 2011 at 4:28 PM ^

As a Wolves fan, I've grown used to getting overlooked :P

But for not having much on the line because both teams aren't the big spenders and neither have a chance of finishing higher than 10th on the table, the rivalry is fierce and underrated when it comes to European football. But I am biased.


November 18th, 2011 at 10:01 PM ^

When told that 900 million Chinese would wake up the next day and not know or care who won the Michigan-Ohio State game, Woody Hayes said "yes, but 10 million Ohioans will know and care, and they'll want my head if we lose".

All sports are local.


Darth Wolverine

November 18th, 2011 at 3:34 PM ^

It is because typically two rival schools play each other only ONCE per season. NFL rivalries, and especially MLB rivalries, are a freaking joke. NFL because rival teams are often in the same division and play each other twice per season and there is also a chance of said teams meeting in the playoffs to play a third time. MLB rivalries? Give me a break. I will admit that I hate baseball, but MBL rivals play each other, what, about 20 times per year or more? That's not exciting at all. I always laugh when I see ESPN honking the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry and that we should not miss the game, even though they will be playing the very next day or week.


November 18th, 2011 at 3:45 PM ^

I agree with MLB rivalries. ESPN kills the Yankees v. Red Sox rivalry talking about it every game. About the only MLB rivalry games I thing have any backing are like the Indians v. the Reds, since they are from different leagues. It's definitely interesting because they only play during interleague games / playoffs.


November 18th, 2011 at 3:40 PM ^

Everyone has missed what is probably the dirtiest, most hate-filled NFL rivalry of all time:

Raiders v. Chiefs.

If you don't know about their history, then it'll be a surprise to you.  Fans of the teams know the hatred.  However, both teams have stunk for 10+ years, so the relevance of the rivalry is pretty much gone.  But back in the day, this was a bloodbath, twice a year.  Having Marcus Allen switch teams but retire as a Chief pretty much added salt to the wounds there.


November 18th, 2011 at 3:41 PM ^

I really think M-OSU all-time (and on a national level), but man after watching the Aub-Ala doc, that's fierce.  When people start poisoning landmarks and live in a state that's only got college football going for it, they HATE each other. You can smell the desperation, on both sides, to win. 



November 18th, 2011 at 4:17 PM ^

Objectively it's not nearly as passionate or global as Celtic v Rangers. With all the Scottish and Irish loyal expats all over the world (especially in America) and the repeated violence, racial abuse, and even current scandals about overzealous fan demonstrations I can't see another rivalry going that far. Real, and more recently Barca, are more competetive on the field so they have recently gotten more international attention, but their global rivalry is one of which jersey sells more: Messi or Ronaldo.


November 18th, 2011 at 4:32 PM ^

If you ever talk to someone who speaks Catalan about Barca/Real (rather than some did in a Xavi jersey) there is a ton of regional and historic hatred between the two clubs.  Madrid was basically the pride and joy of the Franco regime and Barca's name wasn't allowed to be printed in Catalan during that time.

There is plenty of hatred on the ground floor of that rivalry.


November 18th, 2011 at 3:52 PM ^

Red Wings - Avalance was close to the best in all of sports for a stretch in the mid- to late-Nineties.  After the March 26, 1996 game and Detroit beating them in that season's playoffs, their regular season games were events not to be missed.  The rivalry petered out rather quickly, but was huge not only in the hockey world but was front page material in its heyday.


November 18th, 2011 at 3:58 PM ^

Good call, CAHL.

The 2 goalie fights were epic, and there was almost a third goalie fight in the 2002 Western Conference Finals if Hasek didn't fall down on his way to Roy.


On a different note, UM vs MSU football is quietly creeping its way on the top rivalries in sports the way our fans bicker with each other.  pretty soon the national media will start picking up on dislike for each other, more.


November 18th, 2011 at 5:25 PM ^

Dude so true! I mean now it isn't really one, but during the 90's, I would say it was top 3 for sure.

I am so glad I was alive to see/remember this rivalry. SOOO good, I still get goosebumps thinking about those playoff games and how much they meant and how intense they were


November 18th, 2011 at 3:57 PM ^

Any fan will say their team's rivalry is the biggest. A lot of my teams have great rivalries. The Red Sox have the Yankees (best rivalry in baseball). The Bruins have the Canadiens (best rivalry in hockey). The Patriots have the Jets, Colts, and Steelers. The Celtics, at different times, have had the Pistons and the Lakers. Arsenal has Spurs as a local rival and Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool as competitive rivals (Man City is becoming one). Michigan has Ohio State. I don't think I could choose from these rivalries, and I'd be hardpressed to rank them. All I will say is that rivalries are what make sports great.


November 18th, 2011 at 4:07 PM ^

Rangers/Celtic has to be waaay up there, maybe even #1.  Combine UM/OSU and Auburn/Bama sports-hate, add sectarian violence and actual hate, take away any other meaninful rivalries (they are the only real teams in the country), and put the teams in the same damn city. 

Ben from SF

November 18th, 2011 at 6:13 PM ^

My friend grew up Glasgow, Scotland; and he told us his earliest memory is being taken by his dad to a Celtic / Ranger match, and they took turns throwing rocks at Ranger fans walking by the entrance to the stadium.  They never even made it into the game.

...Sounds like OSU fans circa 2002...


November 18th, 2011 at 4:10 PM ^

it's whatever game they happen to be featuring at that moment. Right now the greatest rivalry ever is apparently Houston-SMU, which will be eclipsed by KState-Texas later that evening. KState is on the verge of winning 4 in a row after all...