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SEC Banter: College football rivalries as varied as people themselves
Ben Prevost writes SEC Banter weekly for The Times during the college football season.

It’s rivalry week in college football.

Most of us experience rivalry week all year, because rivalries mirror our own personal relationships.

Rivalries, be they of the gridiron type or otherwise, are born of proximity, close contact, familiarity.

Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say. Contempt breeds rivalries.

There are family rivalries. Sibling rivalries. Corporate rivalries.

My wife makes me watch The Crown and the royals are certainly rife with rivalries.

Even restaurants have rivalries, with McDowell’s vs. McDonald’s being the most obvious restaurant rivalry. (I’ve always preferred the Big Mick over the Big Mac; it must be that bun with no sesame seeds.)

We have in-state rivalries. Border rivalries. Heated rivalries though, strangely, you never hear of chilled rivalries.

Old rivalries. Traditional rivalries. New rivalries.

Some rivalries are “rekindled,” as in “State U. and Northern Tech rekindle their rivalry Saturday at noon...”

“Rekindled” is rarely used in any other context except relationships, as in “Sue and Bob rekindled their romance after divorcing 30 years ago...”

Speaking of 30 years ago, that’s when a real-world rivalry ended with Ronald Reagan and the good ol’ US of A beating the Commies in the Cold War.

Hey, there’s that chilled rivalry I was looking for!

Some rivalries are played for trophies, mostly old, beat up and odd-looking artifacts.

A few rivalries are played with high stakes on the line such as a conference championship.

Most are played for nothing more than pride.

Classic rivalries merit their own names: The Iron Bowl, Egg Bowl, Palmetto Bowl, Gumbo Bowl.

The Gumbo Bowl actually isn’t a rivalry; I made it up, but darn it if there shouldn’t be one.

Rivalries are often unpredictable despite one team’s clear talent superiority. Never underestimate the power of contempt.

Also never underestimate the power of announcers’ time-tested cliches when calling rivalry games: 

“You can throw out the records when State U. and Northern Tech get together.”

“Separated by just 75 miles, the road between State U. and Northern Tech is lined with hate.”

“These players know each other, grew up playing against each other, went to the same high schools.”

It’s rivalry week with all its cliches, supposed hate between teams, unpredictability, silly names and even sillier trophies, and rivalries as varied as people themselves.  

Run out to McDowell’s, settle in with a Big Mick, and enjoy it!

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