A Rivalry Renewed

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Much has been made of this weeks pending game between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, everything from guaranteed victories to “must win” scenarios.

But the truth of the matter is that in a rivalry, every game is a must win, and you should be confident enough to say something along the lines of “Yes, we’re going to give it everything we possibly have; if we do that, we can’t lose!”

That’s what makes this rivalry so special. No matter what the records show, or what your chances at a National Championship may be, it truly is a “must win.”

Lately, I’ve heard some rumblings that this game has lost some of its national rivalry credibility because Michigan State hasn’t been holding up its end of the deal on the field.

I can’t help but think of American tennis star Andy Roddick’s comments when he was asked about his rivalry with Roger Federer and his 2 and fifteen record, “You have to win a couple for it to be a rivalry.”

But what these naysayers don’t understand is that this rivalry isn’t just about what takes place on the field, and it’s not your typical rivalry forged by two national powerhouses who just happened to develop it over time.

This contest means more!

A struggle between schools, that lies greater than any other single sport rivalry.    Because each time the two get together in anything, it’s a must win. From football, hockey, basketball or probably even who can throw a rock farther. It all matters.

This intense disdain for the opposite, divides families, friendships, and co-workers.

Take a drive through any town in Michigan and you’ll see some representation of where there loyalties lie. Or even better, find a house or business where you’ll see a split flag with the block M on one side and block S on the other. In fact you’ll see the same things on t-shirts and license plate holders, or just about anything for people to show their allegiances or how they’re divided.

This year however, at least on the football field, the teams are in some unfamiliar points in their programs.

The Spartans are on the rise, with a coaching staff that seems to have put the building blocks in place to once again return to national prominence.

On the other hand, the Wolverines, in the midst of their own coaching changes have had a tough year, and if it’s not turned around soon in Ann Arbor, the “faithful” may be questioning their decision.

In fact, using the famous “Big Brother” reference, it seems to be about that point in life, where “Little Brother” isn’t so little any more. The point where the growth is greater than that of the strength of the past.

So this week, as the Spartans look to rebound from a tough loss, but still filled with the potential for a great season and rebirth of their program, this game is a “must win.” But the Wolverines are looking to put the skids on a lousy season, and instill some confidence in a fan base that doesn’t do well with adversity, and they know it’s a “must win” as well.No matter which way the pendulum swings this weekend, it won't be long lived. Because this rivalry is lived everyday in a Spartans' and Wolverines' life.

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