Their rivalry, which began (with a Michigan victory) in 1897 and
continues to this day (with Michigan leading by more than 20
victories in the overall series), was voted in an ESPN poll as the
greatest in the history of sports. Although I think it's sort of
silly (heck, I only vaguely recall that UM coach Bo Schembechler
bested OSU's fabled Woody Hayes 5-4-1 in their 10 meetings), the
rivalry is so fierce that stadium officials have considered
requesting the occasional United Nations peacekeeping force.
Now, here's the test: Our hostess tells me that no matter what
happens in the game, we are expected to be good sports.
Knowing that this is impossible, I start preparing my "he started
it" arguments: He said this about the refereeing and that about the
cheerleaders. So, it's not my fault I threw the shoe and broke the
aquarium - accidentally, I might add. He provoked me.
Game day comes, and you can guess what happens.
Nobody calls anybody's mom anything. No shoes are thrown. The OSU
fan is agreeable and fair-minded throughout the contest, even
though Texas gets soundly walloped, providing him ample opportunity
I am bamboozled.
How could this have happened? Certainly the explanation cannot rest
with the conduct of the OSU fan, which exemplified the good
sportsmanship that my friend claimed existed. I conclude that the
lopsidedness of the victory prevents hostilities from gaining
traction. What other explanation could there be?
A few weeks later, I find myself in a sports bar in South Philly
watching the first matchup of the season between the Philadelphia
Eagles and the New York Giants. As the game unravels for the Eagles
in the fourth quarter, the rowdy Eagles fans turn on the few, brave
Giants partisans. One tries to bribe the bartender to expectorate
in the Giants fans' beer. Another threatens to punch a Giants fan
in the face if he stands up and cheers, should the Giants come from
behind and win, which they do.
Ah, all is right with the world again.
And so, during this special time of year, let me wish peace and
goodwill toward men. Unless, of course, we meet in the