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Altstaetter: Keep the rivarlies in perspective


August 23. 2013 7:59PM
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Did you ever wonder what makes a rivalry?



Every school has a particular school, or schools, they dislike, or even ‘hate’. At the college level, Ohio State versus Michigan immediately comes to my mind.



If you are a Buckeye, then you are supposed to dislike anyone who is a Wolverine.



That’s just the way it is.



In professional baseball, it’s New York and Boston (I personally don’t like either team).



Late this summer, our sports department picked Celina versus St. Marys as the No. 1 high school football rivalry in our immediate area. There’s a rich history of the many battles on Grand Lake.



As you move through the list of Midwest Athletic Conference schools, you will find several different combinations of rivalries.



It’s the same way when one looks at the Western Buckeye League.



However, I think it’s nearly impossible to say which rivalry is the most intense.



I can remember my high school days at Elida, when Bath was the No. 1 team on our “hate list.” We wanted nothing more than to beat Bath … and do it convincingly.



A lot of rivalries have their beginnings because of the fierce competition displayed on the playing field.



Many times, it comes down to geographical location. There are a lot of backyard rivalries in our region.



I believe this is even more prevalent when you head into Putnam County. I don’t care what sport is discussed, the competition is always heated up there.



Fort Jennings versus Ottoville, is a prime example of such a rivalry. One can travel less than three miles down Route 189 to get to either town.



These athletes, coaches and fans know each other well. They want nothing more than to walk away with a victory.



Now, that doesn’t mean these people will not socialize with one another once the contest is over. I would be willing to bet there have been many sightings over the years of these “bitter rivals” hanging out together after a hard-fought basketball game.



Personally, I get a chuckle out of how this “rivalry thing” plays out in different sports.



I coach boys cross country at Van Wert. For us, Defiance is the team we are supposed to dislike.



Don’t get me wrong, we want to beat Defiance. It’s on our minds throughout the entire season.



However, off the field, athletes from both schools are friends. I’m actually a good friend of Obie Mouser, the longtime Defiance boys coach.



Obie is a fierce competitor, but also a very likable man.



However, I want nothing more than to beat Defiance. It’s one of the best feelings, to come away with a win over the Bulldogs (hasn’t happened for awhile, though).



The few wins my teams have been fortunate to record over Defiance are the ones I will never forget.



As my kids would say, “Sweet!”



I think most of our athletes do a nice job of separating competition with personal relationships.



I think there are a lot of parents that do a fine job as well.



However, I think some fans forget these are young, impressionable adults out on the playing field. These athletes tend to model their lives around the people they are close to.



So, let’s make sure we keep these rivalry games, just what they are.



We’re all fans, right?





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