Traditional rivalries will fade, new foes will take thier place

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

I’m sure I’m the only person who feels this way and I’m sure all of you who disagree with me will write to us and let us know how you really feel in thoughtful, well-reasoned prose.

Here’s what I think.

I think that the USD/SDSU and Augustana/SDSU rivalries are a bigger deal to USD and Augustana than they are to us.

I know, I know. The USD/SDSU games are a lot of fun to watch and it’s great to see that much emotion out there on the basketball floor (or the football field, depending on what season it is). Both rivalries have long, storied traditions and bring lots of students out to see South Dakota’s finest whomp on each other.

When it comes down to it, though, these rivalries are going away because SDSU is moving up to DI. Whatever you think of this move, it is going to happen and it is going to kill the old rivalries as we have known them (sure we’ll still play Augie and maybe USD, but it won’t really mean much). From various state publications, the cry has gone up that the end of these rivalries is a stake in the heart of South Dakota athletics and that the end of those rivalries spells instant athletic apathy from students at all three institutions.

Horse pucky, I say!

The important thing for me, ultimately, is not who our rivalries are with but that we have rivalries at all. College students find ways to create new rivalries when the old ones die out and I have no doubt that at this time a year from now, USD and Augie will turn up their noses at each other with gusto, while we will feel nothing but disdain for NDSU.

Think of all those poor kids who were forced to see their high schools consolidate with former, bitter rivals. Did they simply give up interest in sports? No. They found new rivals and joined with their old rivals in mocking everything from the new rivals’ clothes to their ugly sisters.

We, of course, are older, more educated and just plain cooler than your average high school student, so I predict that we’ll be fine. The kids at USD and Augie are too (hold your tongues, ladies and gentlemen!) and I imagine they’ll do fine as well.

Some worry about the death of traditions. Traditions, however, have to expire so new traditions can be birthed. Part of having traditions is watching them evolve until they reach a point where they are no longer necessary. The death of a tradition (just like the death of anything) is a sad thing, but it may be necessary for continued adaptation and evolution.

Besides, what are we really losing? Dead animals thrown on the court? Maybe I’m alone in saying this, but the dead animals deserve to go. Throwing dead animals seems rather childish from my point of view (and I’ll be the first to admit that just as many coyotes have been tossed as jackrabbits).

Chris Solari of the “Argus Leader” made a great point when he said that something like that will not stand at a DI institution. It won’t and we’re making the right move by heavily policing rivalry games to put it behind us.

Some, however, say that this is ridiculous and that things should never change (and I should admit that I have talked to few SDSU students who, while sad to see the old rivalries go, believe they absolutely must go on). We at SDSU, however, are taking a bold step forward. Will we succeed or fail? Who knows?

What I do know is that change is important and necessary for life. I also know that if we succeed, we have done a great service to everyone in this state.

Yes, even USD and Augie.

Todd VanDerWerff is our editor-in-chief. Verbally assault him at [email protected].