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Old 06-11-2019, 12:49 AM
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Most "class" driven rivalries in sports


I've been told it's Boca Juniors v River Plate in Argentine soccer-----Boca representing the poorer classes while Plate was the middle class team---- a hateful rivalry where violence forced the South American version of the UEFA title final between the two to be moved to Spain.

American sports: I always perceived the New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox rivalry to be New York stockbroker types looking down on Boston "Irish" lower life scum (22% Irish here btw)

Just saw a Dodgers v Angels game, and while not regular season rivals, they are local rivals and the impression I get is the Angels are an Orange County "Republican" team supported by middle to upper middle class families with lily white all-American Mike Trout as their symbol while the Dodgers are the "liberal" team supported by "liberal" Hollywood celebrities and Hispanic locals.

I think the class distinction manifests itself more with college sports. Locally, in the Philadelphia area, it is perceived that Villanova looks down on other schools not because of its 2 NCAA titles but because of its higher tuitions and academic reputation and for that reason Novas title celebration were very isolated in the Philly area.

What other examples of economic/social status are there that determine rivalries in sports?




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Old 06-11-2019, 08:41 AM
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American sports: I always perceived the New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox rivalry to be New York stockbroker types looking down on Boston "Irish" lower life scum (22% Irish here btw)
I don't think that the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is very class-based. Red Sox fans are evenly distributed around old-money Back Bay types and Sully and his buddies working construction.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:02 AM
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I hear about "working class" White Sox fans versus "yuppie" Northsider Cubs fans... but mainly from Sox fans trying to promote their own more virtuous credibility.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:05 AM
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I've been told it's Boca Juniors v River Plate in Argentine soccer-----Boca representing the poorer classes while Plate was the middle class team---- a hateful rivalry where violence forced the South American version of the UEFA title final between the two to be moved to Spain.
While that rivalry started that way (probably), at this point Boca and River fans are more or less equally distributed among socioeconomic classes, there are a lot of rich Boca Fans, and a lot of very poor River fans.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:10 AM
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Red Sox - Yankees rivalry is between low class and the lowest class, so I guess that counts.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:59 AM
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American sports: I always perceived the New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox rivalry to be New York stockbroker types looking down on Boston "Irish" lower life scum (22% Irish here btw)
No, not at all. It's between towns, nothing more than that.

Hockey is the only sport where I think you still see a bit of working class fan base for many of the Original 6 hockey towns, people who played hockey as a kid. But the newer teams have a much more middle class fan base, people who never played the game.
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:50 AM
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For the UK: the one "class based rivalry" that sprang most to mind for me was not necessarily a class driven thing between the protagonists, more the way it was portrayed in the British media.

Late 70s/early 80s middle distance running: Steve Ovett versus Seb Coe. They swapped world records between one another, they raced each other for major championship medals and they were both British - and if there's one thing that we love in Britain, it's a bit of class warfare. Coe was portrayed as the middle class boy - university educated, well spoken, etc - whereas Ovett was perceived as the more blue collar, earthy and surly type (actually, Coe, though he did go to university, was educated at a comprehensive school and Ovett at a grammar school - with grammar schools generally seen as more middle class than comps - so it wasn't so cut and dried in actuality. Subsequently, Coe got involved with the Conservative Party, ran our Olympics in 2012 and is now the Head of the IAAF, so he has lived up to what people may have expected of the middle class boy - Ovett doesn't seem to bother anyone and retired to Australia). Anyway, reality be damned, an easy narrative was demanded and an easy narrative was what the British public got from our notoriously nuanced press - with Coe as the middle class boy and Ovett the working class hero looking to give him a bloody lip. Who you barracked for said something about you. Both won gold medals in the 1980 Olympics - Ovett in the 800 and Coe in the 1500, with Coe retaining in 1984 and Ovett struggling in the LA heat.

Football rivalries in Britain may have had some class element to them at one point, but most of them are more to do with simple proximity and/or sectarianism. I could well be wrong of course. Rangers and Celtic, for instance, is a Protestant/Catholic thing though, more than money versus not.

Whole sport wise - Rugby League is perceived as the working class rugby code and Rugby Union the code for toffs. Increasingly the chippy nature of this rivalry is one way - I'm mostly finding Union fans either quite like League or don't care, whereas League fans tend to be very interested in taking Union down a peg or two (some of this is also regionalism as well as class - League is played seriously in only certain areas of the North of England, whilst Union is more a Midlands/Southern thing with the odd exception).
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Old 06-11-2019, 01:14 PM
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Florida State vs Miami. At FSU, we always perceived the University of Miami as a playground for rich kids from the Northeast who couldn’t get in to a decent private school and they’re paying private school tuition for good weather, attractive members of their preferred gender and access to Miami Beach nightclubs rather than college bars. There’s certainly some truth in that.
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:11 PM
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Texas Longhorns vs. Texas A&M Aggies had something of a liberal vs. conservative rivalry to it; the liberal Austinite Horns vs. the conservative Republican/military ROTC Aggies. Although the two rarely play each other anymore.
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:44 PM
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Late 70s/early 80s middle distance running: Steve Ovett versus Seb Coe. They swapped world records between one another, they raced each other for major championship medals and they were both British - and if there's one thing that we love in Britain, it's a bit of class warfare.
This example reminded me of another one that was individual athletes, as opposed to teams: figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.

Harding had a working-class background -- her parents were divorced, her mother worked as a waitress, and Tonya's mother had to hand-sew Tonya's skating costumes, as they couldn't afford to buy costumers for her.

So, when she and Kerrigan were competing against each other in the early 1990s, it was common for Harding to be portrayed as a gritty, working-class skater, in contrast with Kerrigan, who was often portrayed as being more elegant (and, thus, must have been more upper-class, as well). But, those attempts to contrast the two weren't accurate, as Kerrigan, too, was from a modest, working-class background (her father was a welder).
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:48 PM
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any southern California college vs USC there's a reason USC is called in the college sports world the "university of spoiled children " and the recent admissions scandal isn't helping much

Last edited by nightshadea; 06-11-2019 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:53 PM
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I hear about "working class" White Sox fans versus "yuppie" Northsider Cubs fans... but mainly from Sox fans trying to promote their own more virtuous credibility.
That stereotype actually had some validity until maybe the 1970's, when the Cubs were the team of the wealthier North Side and north and northwest suburbs while Comiskey Park had a grittier neighborhood feel. It has long since lost contact with reality--let's face it, ticket prices are such that pretty much only affluent people attend any professional sport anywhere. Cub fans still sometimes trot it out as a putdown and Sox fans as a sneak-brag, but it's an old war-horse long past its sell-by date.
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:01 PM
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Supposedly, the NY Yankees, with their historic successes and long history, are the team of wealthy Manhattanites; whereas the younger, upstart Mets are the team of working class folks in Brooklyn or Queens. There may be a grain of truth in that, but not much more than a grain.
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:05 PM
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Whole sport wise - Rugby League is perceived as the working class rugby code and Rugby Union the code for toffs. Increasingly the chippy nature of this rivalry is one way - I'm mostly finding Union fans either quite like League or don't care, whereas League fans tend to be very interested in taking Union down a peg or two (some of this is also regionalism as well as class - League is played seriously in only certain areas of the North of England, whilst Union is more a Midlands/Southern thing with the odd exception). 7
My impression is that in the U.K., cricket has a middle/upper class fanbase, rugby is more working class, and soccer is universal. How wrong am I?
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:31 PM
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My impression is that in the U.K., cricket has a middle/upper class fanbase, rugby is more working class, and soccer is universal. How wrong am I?
Cricket - as a whole - cuts across class boundaries I think. I mean the MCC is well posh, but there's plenty of working class kids that play - and from a wide range of communities too.

Rugby Union - it kinda depends on which part of the UK you are talking about. In Scotland it's a pretty middle-class sport, in Wales not so much. Rugby League I don't know much about.

Soccer is pretty universal, but at the highest levels things like season ticket prices are not cheap at all any more, so the demographics attending matches has changed a lot.

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Old 06-11-2019, 04:03 PM
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I hear about "working class" White Sox fans versus "yuppie" Northsider Cubs fans... but mainly from Sox fans trying to promote their own more virtuous credibility.
Yeah. The Chicago Tribune a few years back did a report on the fan demographics between the two teams.

About the only thing that consistently distinguishes their fans is geography. Everything else is pretty much wishful thinking/posing/hipsterness on both fanbases' parts.

Last edited by Hoopy Frood; 06-11-2019 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 06-11-2019, 04:48 PM
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These lads & lassies even get in a "go Cubs" while performing "South Side Irish" (3:25 mark).
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Old 06-12-2019, 03:28 AM
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My impression is that in the U.K., cricket has a middle/upper class fanbase, rugby is more working class, and soccer is universal. How wrong am I?
You're right about soccer. Baron Greenback has about the right of it in his answer on the other sports.

Cricket has a big divide in it at a children's level, in that it is played mostly by fee-paying schools (so the middle and upper classes) and by immigrant communities, who generally have much less money. It used to be the case that cricket was played more universally at schools and, particularly in places like Lancashire and Yorkshire, the game still retains some working class appeal. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in the long run.

Rugby's class appeal is similarly split but much more geographically based. In Scotland, Ireland and much of England, the game is middle class (if you look at where a lot of internationals played when kids, significant numbers in these countries went to fee paying schools, either because they come from money or they were handed a scholarship) and played at the highest school boy standard by similar schools to the ones that play cricket. In Wales and South Western England, the game is much more universal and cuts across class much more. These two areas are small population wise though and, as a consequence, outside those areas, and in general, the game is perceived as a middle/upper class preserve.

Rugby League is almost explicitly working class in the areas that is played in - I hate to be reductive but when you go to places that have good, big Rugby League teams (Castleford, Wigan, St Helens, Warrington) there are nice areas but the bulk is much more working class and people from those areas make up the bulk of the support. The game is also played much less in schools, so players come up through community clubs, and a lot get pro contracts at a young age, much like football, so a bunch of the players are not going to university (not that that is a marker of intelligence - but uni attendance does correlate with class measures in the UK).

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Old 06-12-2019, 06:48 AM
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It's hard to find examples of that in professional sports these days as most leagues have become so corporate, with games watched in sports bars on big screen televisions or at home, that it just doesn't have the same feel. It's different from when you had the Yankees playing the Brooklyn Dodgers and fans had to travel across town to get to games. The Green Bay Packers against the Chicago Bears might have been another rivalry like that - before the age of television.

It's probably only high school sports where you really see that dynamic play out, at least in the US. At the high school level, you have rich schools playing blue collar schools. Suburban schools playing schools from the inner city or schools out in the sticks. The players, school band, the families and friends of the team have to travel into "hostile" territory. It's not just a game; it's a contest between demographically different groups.

There's a little bit of that at the college level, but not what you see in high school sports.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:45 AM
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any southern California college vs USC there's a reason USC is called in the college sports world the "university of spoiled children " and the recent admissions scandal isn't helping much
I think this is a good example and there might be lesser ones in other states (Alabama, Michigan and Kansas and Florida maybe, among others) where one major university holds itself as superior to the other(s).

I also imagine that this is all good natured fun to one side of the rivalry. At times, though, it can rub some of us the wrong way.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:58 AM
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I think this is a good example and there might be lesser ones in other states (Alabama, Michigan and Kansas and Florida maybe, among others) where one major university holds itself as superior to the other(s).

I also imagine that this is all good natured fun to one side of the rivalry. At times, though, it can rub some of us the wrong way.
My clients are in Alabama; most of them are Alabama natives, and most of them attended either the University of Alabama, or Auburn University. There is a *lot* of ribbing that goes on between the alumni and fans of the two schools -- most of it good-natured, but it's clear that the rivalry can be intense.

(And, the folks who went to UAB are treated like the poor stepchildren.)
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:18 AM
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Texas Longhorns vs. Texas A&M Aggies had something of a liberal vs. conservative rivalry to it; the liberal Austinite Horns vs. the conservative Republican/military ROTC Aggies. Although the two rarely play each other anymore.
Actually it is/was more of a rural/urban divide more than anything else- early on, it was redneck/country ROTC agriculture and engineering students vs. urban liberal arts students. As time went on, and the military component was minimized, it was still country agriculture students vs. hippies in Austin.

Nowadays, both schools are overwhelmingly middle class suburban students, with a relatively small percentage of rural/agriculture students (A&M) and hippies/progressives (UT) acting as the 'seasoning' that makes the schools have some character.

And truth be told, both schools have hippies and rednecks- just maybe not in the same proportions. And A&M in particular has been more tolerant and progressive than you might suspect; for example, the first Hillel organization at a US university was started at Texas A&M in 1916, of all the times and places.
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:39 AM
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"AGGIES. IS. SEMI. RURAL."

From Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins (a novel which could probably not be published today).
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Old 06-13-2019, 01:08 PM
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let's face it, ticket prices are such that pretty much only affluent people attend any professional sport anywhere.
Huh? You can get tickets to a White Sox game on StubHub for $6. Hell, you can get upper level tickets from the Sox's own box office for $5 right now.
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Old 06-13-2019, 10:48 PM
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What other examples of economic/social status are there that determine rivalries in sports?
The traditional biggest rivalry in AFL is between the working class Collingwood and the gentrified Carlton which are almost adjoining suburbs of Melbourne.

Tthe suburb in the middle is Fitzroy (also working class), which had it's own VFL/AFL team for a century. 9 of the 12 foundation VFL clubs are inner city based and it would be an invigorating afternoons walk around them.

The socioeconomic class distinction has diminished but Collingwood still push their blue collar status despite being the wealthiest club in the competition while Carlton push their white collar establishment status despite being cash-strapped and utterly crap at football.
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Old 06-15-2019, 05:46 AM
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Fro the record, my grandfather's Dodgers'-fan siblings always resented my grandfather for becoming a Yankees fan. The claimed he though he was better than them.

To be fair, he was better than them.
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Old 06-15-2019, 03:21 PM
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Huh? You can get tickets to a White Sox game on StubHub for $6. Hell, you can get upper level tickets from the Sox's own box office for $5 right now.
Mariners tickets are as low as $11 for some games. Thatís less than a fifth the price of Seahawks tickets.

What kills you is paying $50+ to park if taking the train isnít a viable option.
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Old 06-25-2019, 10:56 PM
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Pacers vs. Knicks in the mid-to-late-1990s: "Hicks vs. Knicks".
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Old 06-30-2019, 01:41 AM
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You're right about soccer. Baron Greenback has about the right of it in his answer on the other sports.

Cricket has a big divide in it at a children's level, in that it is played mostly by fee-paying schools (so the middle and upper classes) and by immigrant communities, who generally have much less money. It used to be the case that cricket was played more universally at schools and, particularly in places like Lancashire and Yorkshire, the game still retains some working class appeal. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in the long run.
I guess also there was the professional versus amateur divide which only disappeared in the 50's and 60's. They had separate dressing rooms and I believe Len Hutton in 1952 was the first professional captain of the MCC. (Arthur Shrewsbury had been a captain in the 1860's but they were professionally organised tours.).
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Old 07-02-2019, 12:13 AM
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Rugby League in Australia in the 70s saw a rivalry between Wests and Manly - became popularly known as the Fibros (short for Fibro dwellers) vs the Silvertails.

The ABC did a documentary about the 1978 clash - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EuU0Fw8h9A
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:53 AM
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The Portland Mavericks and, well, everyone else in their league.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:39 PM
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I will answer "All inter-high school team matches."
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