A rivalry between two sports teams is the strongest tool at the disposal of a fan base. The rivalry is influenced and fueled by a number of factors: the frequency of play, the similarity between schools and the value attached to it by the fans create lasting impressions in the minds of all those lucky enough to witness an intense contest.
It is no secret on campus that California Baptist University’s rival is Azusa Pacific University. Playing against their teams at least one time per season — twice for the basketball teams — makes each game pass with the memory of competitive screaming, shouting and chanting by the fans of both sides.
All it takes is one basketball game for any CBU student to realize just how deep the competition runs with APU. The Crazies take their spot in the center of the student section dressed in their mismatched outfits and scarves, and the rest of the attending student body and faculty surround them as they stare down the visiting APU fans, daring them to attempt to be louder and more energized than the home crowd.
The last two seasons of basketball have repeated themselves in terms of games against the Cougars. In the 2013-2014 season, the first games were played in Azusa and both the CBU teams lost. Fast forward a couple of weeks. The Cougars had to make the trip down to the Van Dyne Gym, where their teams in turn lost to the Lancers. This year, the routine was the same.
When these two teams play, especially on the home turf of one or the other, it takes the term “home-field advantage” to a whole new level. But what is the value of our rivalry with APU? What is the value of any rivalry in sports?
Rivalries do not just develop of their own volition. They have to be nurtured, and teams have to take the time to appreciate and respect their opponent because, after all, the other team would not be a rival if they did not compete on the same playing field. They are fueled by the school administration, the students, the athletes and coaches because it gets the fans excited. If the fans are excited, they get loud. And it has been seen throughout the history of sports that the louder the home crowd, the more flustered the visiting team will be.
Games between true rivals make fans feel as if they are locked in a war of psychological will. Even if the spectator has not been a fan for very long, all it takes is one rivalry game to make him feel the anxiety and the tension that comes with a close game.
Teams need rivals to push them. If they constantly have a worthy opponent in their division, a team they respect, a team they value because of the challenge they present, then the home team will always be able to improve. Fans need rivals because their teams need support, to know that their volume can help their team. If the fans are riled up to be as loud as they can be, the home team will be even more motivated.