The Hated Rival

By , November 21, 2003

This Saturday, the annual “Big Game” between my alma mater, California (a.k.a. U.C. Berkeley), and Stanfurd takes place. For more than 100 years the two schools have been fierce rivals, and besting one another on the football pitch has been the prime indicator of whether the season was a success or a flop. News of this pending football match set my mind to thinking about all the fun a rivalry provides.

Now, at first glance, perhaps that concept seems silly. After all, who wants someone competing for the same resources as you? Wouldn’t a rival-free existence be preferable? I pondered this, and came to the conclusion that while life may be easier when you have access to everything you want, and needn’t fight for it, easier doesn’t always equate to better.

Currently Playing: Joe Starkey – The 1982 Big Game Finale

The sound you hear right now (if you’ve clicked the link, your speakers are turned on, and you aren’t on some archaic dial-up connection) is the voice of Joe Starkey at his insane best, calling “The Play” that finished the 1982 Big Game. It picks up with John Elway orchestrating a last-minute drive to give Stanford what looks to be a sure victory, after which point mayhem ensues. I guarantee you will not regret taking a moment out of your day to listen to this soundbite.

Such a thrilling finish to a sporting event can excite nearly anyone, but a casual bystander probably won’t experience the same level of unbridled euphoria at hearing “The Play” as will a Cal student, alum, or diehard fan. The rivalry even allows the moment to transcend the medium– I’m by no means an enthusiastic sports fan, but I get chills listening to this clip, predicated almost entirely by my scholastic connection to the victorious team, and disdain for the defeated rival. Therein lies the magic. A rivalry gives one the chance to experience the great high of overcoming obstacles and achieving a victory over a despised foe. And conversely, unless you’re a ‘furd, you can’t feel the true level of despair and heartache that the loss brought with it. (Happily, they can, and I hope a few ‘furds are reading now, just so you can relive that moment of exquisite pain when that god-awful band of yours cost you The Axe.)

As an aside, besides the obvious best moment when Joe Starkey yells “oh, the band is out on the field!” my favorite part of the attached audio clip is the roar of the Memorial Stadium crowd a split-second before Starkey loses it for a second time. He didn’t even need to say “the Bears have won,” for the reaction of the Berkeley crowd said all.

I feel sorry for the students at Universities that don’t have an arch-rival. Even though it’s awful when your team loses a rivalry match, it’s all worth it on the days when they win. Moreover, there is unparalleled fun in preparing for an upcoming game, with hope alive in the air, and a palpable sense of anticipation amplifying every moment in the days leading up to the match, just as there is in reliving the glory of victories past.

The advantage of having a rival extends beyond the world of sports. In nearly every aspect of life it can be exciting and beneficial to have a one. The competitor pushes you to better yourself, lest you fall behind them. They become a benchmark, a standard to meet and exceed, and you become the same to your rival. The end result is two entities constantly striving to outperform one another, with both becoming better in the process.

Today’s Question: Do you have your own personal rival?

Go Bears!

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35 Responses to “The Hated Rival”

  1. MandyMae says:

    Very very cool. I would have to say that this is a very very good post. Sounds like it was an exciting game. You know what’s sad? I wasn’t even alive then. Yup. Sad, Sad, Sad. The Alabama Auburn game is the biggest game of the year for us of course. We could win every other game and lose to Auburn and it would be a losing season. Does that make sense? We have had a very bad season.. maybe we can still beat ’em! I shall never give up hope! Anyway, great post!!

    Of course we all have our own personal rivals. I think I have a few. Over JW it would have to be Sarah, it’s funny that she wants to be my roommate next term. My biggest rival I would have to say is a girl named barbara.. long story.. but anyway… we all have rivals.. it’s what makes us work harder and become better people, as you said! It’s a very healthy thing! I guess having multiple rivals makes me extra healthy!! ;0)

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  2. Hybrid_girl says:

    I actually do have my own personal rival and she’s someone who is very close toe me. I guess it is best to keep your enemies close, huh?

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  3. Wow – where did you find this braodcast? It just game me chills. What exciting emotion! Joe Starkey is so raw – I love it.

    Yes, yes – Go Bears !! ~PK

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  4. ca1b0y says:

    OMG! This almost brings a tear to my eye! This is GREAT!!!! Thanks! I can’t wait for the Big Game this year. How many years has it been since the last bowl game? We finally have a chance again. For anyone who’s not around SF, here’s a site of live telecasts throughout the states.

    http://www.alumni.berkeley.edu/Alumni/Clubs/biggame/telecast.asp

    GO BEARS!

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  5. sleepiebear says:

    Go CARD!!! we also had a similar win … it was pretty sweet good luck tomorrow!

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  6. so did we win or lose??? GAWD NY WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO FUN!!!

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  7. rips31 says:

    go bears! sh*t on the tree!

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  8. rips31 says:

    awww…did you know that macy’s is selling cal/stanturd football helmet ornaments? i almost bought a stanturd helmet just to smash it. =D

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  9. shadowluv says:

    Yay! A new post. My personal rival has always been my sister, but only in a good way. We have a great time trying to one up each other…

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  10. YukiTonbo says:

    ok now, this is a good color scheme…there you go.

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  11. YukiTonbo says:

    mmm…did you make some slight changes? It looks pretty good on my PC, but lighter on my Mac…but anyhoo

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  12. ThursdayNext says:

    Long clip, but totally worth listening to it. I played it twice!! So much foreshadowing before the big finish. Only a miracle can save the bears now!

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  13. Go Bears !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE BEAT STANFuRD !!!!!!!!!! BABY

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  14. Our “The Play” occurred in the last few minutes of the 2001 installment of Bedlam, the annual events that take place when Oklahoma State battles UO (it is the university of Oklahoma, after all). Anyhoo, it was a glory pass from true freshman QB Josh Fields to the always awesome then-soph Rashaun Woods; a beauty caught between two receivers and he then landed tip-toed on the scoring side of the end zone. That 16-13 upset cost the boomer losers a repeat trip to a National Championship. Beautiful, man, beautiful.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    I thought you were exaggerating, but he FUCKING LOSES IT!!! ahahahaha lolllll

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  16. ManCobb says:

    One of the greatest calls of all time. I’ve never heard the whole thing, thanks for posting it!

    “nobody tackled him, the fools!” CLASSIC!!!

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  17. yaleelee says:

    thanks for putting the broadcast up, some exciting stuff =)

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  18. nEenERz says:

    the bears STILL fucking suck… u got me? :P hahahahhahaha

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    Peasprout Reply:

    @nEenERz, Sounds like nEenERz is still smarting from her school’s 54 to 7 drubbing at the hands of Cal two weeks ago. :)

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  19. LoLLitodaPop says:

    … still no pink mister man!!

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  20. Yes indeed the Big Game was good stuff this year as were a lot of the other rivalry games. Rivaly Week continues this weekend with games like Texas/Texas A&M, Viginia/ Virginia Tech, Georgia/ Georgia Tech,and the grandaddy, Florida/Florida State. AS you can tell, I’ll be watching all of ’em.

    Most of the games this year were anticlimactic, but at least the Big Game and Michigan/Ohio State lived up to the hype.

    Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving.

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  21. MandyMae says:

    Pea!! I’m going through withdrawals! Hurry and post something new! I’m home and bored! I definitely need a little peasprout to liven things up! ;D Have a happy thanksgiving!

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  22. Afro Left says:

    Although Stanford is our official rival, I hate UCLA way more. I really can’t stand those guys. As far as personal rivals, eh, I’ve had a few, but mostly just short term rivals from competition.

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  23. Fizzy Pop says:

    Gee whiz, but my rival is Mothra.

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  24. CHiTaLiaNO says:

    O_O…..Was that really necessary? Tsk.

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  25. YukiTonbo says:

    we killed them this year…

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  26. im reading through your entires backwards. creepy huh? mills doesnt really have a rival, but if we did, it might be cal, since they stole everythinf from us. like, our school colors, our campaneile, and fitness center, which i can’t remember the name of. or cal could be like the annoying little brother of mills, since we are older and wiser.

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  27. Lex says:

    well written. but…

    fuck the Bears. i went to “CAL” (which i refuse to call it, it’s UC Berkeley thank-you-very-much) for the education. i never attended a game. at some point, i’d like to, just to say i did.

    however, crap like this http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/2009-11-09-coaches-salary-analysis_N.htm and the fact that football coaches make more money than most of my professors COMBINED, makes me resent the place that college football has in the university.

    yes, yes, i’m quite aware of the money-in/money-out logic. “CAL” makes helluv money from people who buy football tickets. but shouldn’t some of it be spent on what “CAL” is supposed to be– an educational institution?

    i support the rival-ness.
    i support your right to love college football, and your college, and football, and whatever.

    just had to add my rant. :)

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    Peasprout Reply:

    @Lex, hahahaha I couldn’t agree more. I just like when the guy yells “The band is out on the field!”

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  28. Ted Gioia says:

    Nice piece. But there are few things in life I like to contemplate less than the 1982 Big Game. It cost Stanford the axe, and also a bowl bid. It probably cost Elway the Heisman trophy. It cost the Stanford coach his job. And there was also a destroyed trombone that needs to be included in the final accounting. Bad day all ’round.

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