In a couple of weeks, I will launch two books that are based on an intense rivalry.
Over the years, I have either played, covered or watched rivalries in the sports world.
I remember the battles between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
There were the competitive encounters between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers back in the late 1970’s and early 1980s.
The clashes of the Boston Celtics with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA, when Larry Bird faced off against Magic Johnson, are epic. I remember leaving my high school graduation party early to catch Game 7 between the two in the NBA Finals. It was THAT important.
I am most familiar with the heated matchup between The Ohio State University and Michigan, played each year to end the regular season, although it may come sooner this year if played at all. I have also attended a few times and have seen how intense fans can be even in the bitter cold.
There is nothing quite like being in the Horseshoe in Columbus on a chilly November afternoon to take in the action, the food, and the fights between fans.
But many of the rivalries have a story behind them and a long history.
And that is one aspect I enjoyed writing about the rivalry between the University of Alabama and Auburn University.
I learned about the feud between the two powerhouse football programs and how they play each other in a game called the Iron Bowl every year.
The first Iron Bowl was played on Feb. 22, 1893.
Since then, the Crimson Tide and the Tigers, whose home stadiums are only about 90 miles apart, have met 84 times with Alabama leading the series 46-37-1.
The Iron Bowl is considered one of the most important rivalries in all of American sports.
For many years, the two schools were the only Alabama colleges in what is now Div. I Football Bowl Subdivisions (FBS).
Both are major football powerhouses. Alabama has won 17 national championships while the Tigers have earned two.
Rivalries are good. Competition is productive and can bring out the best in a person.
One of the classic Hebrew proverbs says: Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27: 17 KJV).
There is a sharpening, there is growth, there is a process where we can actually make each other better.
Growth as a person requires challenge, stretching, and refinement that only happens when there’s competition.
Rivals— when met with humility and mutual respect— will make you better.
There is a different motivation other than dominance. For the Christian, it means practicing our behavior for the approval of the head Coach, rather than trying to defeat another person.
Whatever you do, make sure it is done to serve God and to please fans or teammates.
When you compete as a believer, you offer your best before God as the honor and glory belong to Him. The win of the moment is yours, but the overall victory is His.
Don’t let the rivalry bring out the worst. Instead, let it reveal the best.
Meet your rival under these conditions:
Not hatred or guile. The battle will make you better, so get in shape and be prepared. There will be sacrifices to be made. But you must have the determination.
· Give up some of your time to read the Word.
· Give up a small portion of your day to get in God’s huddle and pray.
· Give up precious hours to visit His stadium .. the church.
This way all can be victorious.
No player can win a game without first showing up at the field.
What makes you a better person? What do you like about competition? What is our rivalry?
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.