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Schools of thought: Sports rivalries can have an ugly side

Mark Sahli

What makes a rivalry? Is it on the field? Is it in the stands? Is it on the streets? Does it start in the home?

Many schools of thought may gravitate to one of these questions.

We just had a rivalry game in our own community. This rivalry football game between West Fargo Sheyenne and West Fargo High School was hyped by local media, talked about leading up to the game and even some ugly talk between people within the community. Kids are kids and things get said that are not always nice or even cordial. Where do these kids learn this from? Rivalries can be fun, but some people also can become ugly with them.

Little things turn into bigger things, such as recent complaining of a public entity supposedly supporting one school and not the other. “Why did they get this and we didn’t?” or “We have this and they don’t.”

This is pretty petty stuff, which in many cases stems from the grown-ups in the home.

When the comment to “grow up” gets thrown around, many times it is those grown-ups who it should be directed at.

Recent news and video of two high school football players taking out a referee because of calls not going their way is another example of amped up involvement by more than just the players who performed the act. What or who gives them the idea to do that, or worse yet, think that was the right thing to do.

Rivalries happen in all sports and in life and some are worse than others. Football is now in season and in the spotlight and a real big spotlight will be shown at the Fargodome this coming weekend.

This week we will see a renewal rivalry game within our state with fans in our community cheering for one or the other of our state universities. The players will play the game and fans will support their team and things will get ugly at times, without a doubt. I have not mentioned either team because everyone who follows football knows who is playing. As a columnist you have to take a stand on issues. My stand on this upcoming game is in the minority for sure, as I have the school of thought that this rivalry could have been over and both schools would be just fine.

This column is also to provoke thought and promote other schools of thought. I am sure some of your thoughts directed at me right about now are to grow up. Although my thought is not of most, I do know there are still many who agree with that thought also.

Stay classy, fans.

Sahli is a longtime West Fargo resident, parent, coach, outdoor enthusiast, and former columnist for NDSU Bison athletics in varying publications. He can be reached at for comments and ideas.