The 13 Greatest Rivalries In Sports

There are millions of reasons why we love watching sports. A big one is that we enjoy picking the team that best represents us, and faithfully rooting for them all season long. But another part of supporting our favorite players means engaging in and perpetuating our teams’ longstanding rivalries. Check out some of the most intense and oldest rivalries in the history of professional sports, and don’t forget that the Hatfields and McCoys feud begins on Memorial Day, at 9/8c on HISTORY.

1. Ohio State VS Michigan (College Football)

The feud between Ohio State University and Michigan University started in October of 1897 and has been called the greatest rivalry in North American sports by ESPN. The teams usually face off at the end of the regular Big Ten season, and are commonly referred to as “The Game.” So unfortunately, that means you and your buddies better think of something else to call your nighttime dodge ball games.

2. Duke VS UNC (College Basketball)

Part of what keeps the rivalry between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils is the fact that the two campuses are just 8 miles from each other, and that UNC is a public university while Duke is private. But then there’s the part about how experts have considered both schools to be among the nation’s best basketball teams for the last 60 years.

3. Army VS Navy (College Football)

The game between the Army Black Knights of the United States Military Academy and the Navy Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy started in 1890, but became an annual event in 1930. The Navy has won the most games in the series, which makes a little bit of sense because once you learn how to keep your balance on a ship in harsh waters, running around on grass is probably pretty easy.

4. Real Madrid VS Barcelona (Soccer)

Any soccer game between Real Madrid and Barcelona is called “El Clásico.” Aside from the UEFA Champions League Final, the battle of these two teams is one of the most watched matches in the world, and hundreds of millions of people around the world cancel their plans (or get up in the middle of the night) to make a memory.

5. Manchester United VS Manchester City (Soccer)

The Manchester United and Manchester City teams have played each other in “The Manchester Derby” since 1881. The two teams hold the highest home attendances in the history of English football, with Manchester City drawing a crowd of 84,569 in 1934 and Manchester United bringing in a whopping 83,260 in 1948. Not surprisingly, both clubs had a combined revenue of £410 million (which translates to $662,252,500) in 2010.

6. Los Angeles Lakers VS Boston Celtics (Basketball)

The Lakers and Celtics have one of the hottest rivalries in the NBA. Even though things have cooled down since Magic Johnson and Larry Bird retired, intensity surged when the teams made it to the 2010 NBA finals. One of the main reasons for their fierce relationship is because of how they have the two highest numbers of championships (the Celtics have won 17, and the Lakers have won 16).

7. New York Yankees VS Boston Red Sox (Baseball)

A lot of why the Yankees and the Red Sox have one of the most notorious rivalries in the history of sports has to do with how Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919 so he could help finance the Broadway musical, No, No, Nanette. Between 1920 and 2003, many believe the “Curse of the Bambino” helped the Yankees win 26 World Series championships and 39 pennants, while the Red Sox earned just 4 pennants. One sportswriter has equated the rivalry between the two teams to the rivalry “between a hammer and a nail.”

8. New York Jets VS New England Patriots (Football)

The rivalry between New York and Boston doesn’t end with baseball. In fact, the tension bleeds over into football as well, and the Jets and the Patriots are under tremendous pressure to make their cities proud. They played their first game in 1960, and the Patriots have only won one more game than the Jets. This means their games can be incredibly stressful, and most of us like to unwind afterwards by using mathematical equations to prove which team has all the hotties.

9. Chicago Cubs VS Chicago White Sox (Baseball)

Any time a city has two major baseball teams, there are going to be problems. And so obviously the Chicago Cups and the Chicago White Sox have a notorious rivalry, because it’s like, “which is the real team of Chicago?” And so since 1906, the people of the Windy City have been divided based on which group of athletes is the best. The Chicago White Sox have won 8 more games than the Cubs, but that could be knocked down to 7 if the Cubs bring their talent on May 18th.

10. Greenbay Packers VS Chicago Bears (Football)

The clash of the Greenbay Packers and the Chicago Bears began in 1921, which means the two teams have one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL. They’ve won a combined 22 NFL Championships, and the teams have one of the more violent relationships because two players were ejected for fighting for the first time in NFL history in November of 1924. Let’s just chalk it up to the cold, shall we?

11. Oklahoma VS Texas (College Football)

The Red River Rivalry denotes the heavy competition between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns. The games usually take place in Dallas, as it is approximately halfway between Austin, Texas and Norman, Oklahoma, and the Longhorns leads the all-time series 59–42–5 (obviously due to Matthew McConaughey’s support).

12. Notre Dame VS USC (College Football)

Both the University of Notre Dame and the University of Southern California have won 11 national championships and 7 Heisman trophies. Together, they have produced the most national titles (21), Heisman trophy winners (14), All-Americans, College Football Hall of Famers, and future NFL Hall of Famers (21) of any collegiate football rivalry. Additionally, the schools have the highest number of players drafted into the NFL: USC takes the number one spot with 472 draftees, and Notre Dame ranks second with 469. So yeah, their games will affect your blood pressure.

13. Montreal VS Toronto (Hockey)

The Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs have the oldest rivalry in the National Hockey League. They have battled each other in five Stanley Cup Championships, and their high-intensity games are emblematic of the friction that exists between Canada’s two largest cities. And no matter what anyone says, we have a sneaking suspicion that it can only be settled with the help of a puck.

Inspired By History’s “Hatfields & McCoys”

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