“There so much we should be proud of
So many dreams that we have shared
I’d hate to think that we’re arriving
Without you standing here”
“Why Do We Always Hurt the Ones We Love” - Dan Hill
In the respect of sports rivalries, many have likened the cheering for one side or another in the rivalry as “rooting for laundry.” In professional sports, especially, this rings true as one season, a player could be with a favored team and the next year be playing for the rival squad, so the tie to a particular player doesn’t even hold for more than the length of the current contract.
I knew some of sports rivalries growing up, with SDSU/USD within the boundaries of this state being the biggest college rivalry and plenty of strong feelings over local high school rivalries that have now been put aside as small schools consolidated over the years and new rivalries formed.
Heck, those of us who were educated in Wolsey got to experience the friendly rivalry of a Packer backer and Viking fan as we worked our way through the school system, with Mrs. Diegel and Mrs. Mutch being on opposite sides of that rivalry.
However, I hadn’t really LIVED sports rivalry until I got to college.
Minnesota and Wisconsin had reciprocity agreements until recently that would often make it cheaper to attend the university on the other side of the border. That led to plenty of students from Wisconsin going to school at the University of Minnesota and vice versa.
The issue with that is, for many growing up in either state, you are taught from a young age that it is akin to sacrilege to cheer for the “big school” of the opposing state, meaning Wisconsin youth would be taught to cheer for the Badgers, not the Gophers, and Minnesota kids would be taught Goldy is the mascot of choice, not Bucky.
Working as a bouncer at a college bar during my college years, I could get time away if needed for a family event coming up most weekends, but if it was the weekend that Wisconsin and Minnesota were playing in football, basketball, hockey, or even “lower-tier” sports like volleyball or wrestling, you simply didn’t get granted time off. All hands were needed on deck as bar “discussions” near campus could get quite heated.
Then, my sophomore year of college, a tragic accident led to the loss of life of a beloved Wisconsin professor, and multiple fundraisers were held on campus at Minnesota for a memorial that was to be put on the Wisconsin campus in his honor.
It showed a very different side of rivalry.
In the midst of a rivalry football week with the two states, beginning with the Viking/Packer game last Sunday and ending with today’s Gopher/Badger game, some big events happened in Wisconsin.
It was heartening not to see Minnesotans picking a side and saying, “Glad that didn’t happen here!”
Instead, multiple medical personnel volunteered after the tragedy in Waukesha to aid in any way possible to care for the injured adults and children, with friends in the mental health field volunteering from Minnesota with those who are working through trauma, not to mention the many others who offered assistance with those with physical injuries.
Multiple law enforcement and social justice agencies volunteered to do what they could to prevent mayhem in Kenosha - which saw protests post-verdict, but those protests remained peaceful and without incident.
Sadly, the political sphere didn’t pick up where the sports rivalry did.
“Better dead than red” was a phrase that was plastered on many shirts across the Minnesota campus. It’s akin to the sophomoric attempt to curse without cursing that “Let’s go, Brandon” is among those of one party right now. However, things don’t end with petty in-phrasing and memes.
The “laundry” of one side or the other has become so strong that what was once similar to a sports rivalry that people could still be friends whether they cheered for one team or another has now become such that it is dividing households, families, and communities.
Congressional leadership, even from our own state, has chosen the route of espousing extreme party lines rather than working together for the best of all involved. State politics are currently amok with investigations into misdoings by those in office, all the way up to, and including, the governor herself.
All the while, the focus is on the dirty laundry of the other side.
When not one member of an entire party votes for a particular bill, that isn’t about representing constituents, it’s absolutely about representing your shade (and stink) of laundry.
Perhaps it’s time we toss out some - or all - of the current laundry and try on some new clothes.