Tradition and Identity: Football Rivalries

I still get blown away by the intensity of this yearly tradition around here – the Easton vs. Phillipsburg football game. It’s not just a game that happens on Turkey Day – it seems like there are so many preliminary scuffles – the soccer teams play each other the week before, the bands get together for some sort of dance – albeit awakward from what I hear from the kids, the senior girls play each other in a powderpuff game (tonight – Easton girls won), and I’m sure there’s more. For everything people complain about with the school board, etc., when it comes to this rivalry people know for sure which side of the (state)line they stand on and it is fiercely upheld. I just find it all so fascinating – and kind of caught up in it.

So much of identity is rooted in these kinds of traditions and the ways they connect people – whether football or sports (I think of Andy, who whenever ┬áhe sees anyone sporting anything Steeler will say something like, “Go Steelers,” and don’t even get him started on the Ravens), religious holidays, family vacations…In this case, what makes it so interesting is the hatred (probably a strong word, but I’ve heard it used for these kind of high school and college sports rivalries) that is a part of the tradition. I can’t say I totally get it, maybe because I haven’t grown up with it, and it wasn’t prevalent in my family. But I wonder when the babies come if it will be something that becomes more of a part of who I am as it will most likely will be passed on to them by Andy?

(photograph from