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A rivalry that unites

Jim's Jams

September 5, 2012
Jim Krajewski ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

Jam of the week - "1983" by Flying Lotus

This weekend, like many other people in the state of Iowa, I will be watching the Cyclones take on the Hawkeyes for the Cy-Hawk trophy. There's a chance I'll be tailgating at Kinnick, but regardless I'm looking forward to the game.

Recently, Troy Banning was talking about a sports writer for another media outlet was hired and almost immediately began tweeting about his stance in the Iowa football rivalry. Needless to say, his stance became immediately contentious and drew heavy criticism.

Issues of neutrality are a common concern in journalism. However, it's usually over whether the journalist is conservative or liberal, not red and gold or black and yellow.

Lucky me, I was born and raised in Illinois. In the central area of the state, orange flags for the University of Illinois fly on Saturdays in fall. However, my father graduated from Northern Illinois University and my mother graduated from Purdue University so again I found myself not on the side of the majority of football fans.

For the record, any Hawkeye fans reading this column will appreciate knowing that my dad was bragging about last Saturday's game right up until the huskies were pinned at their own one yard line. No surprise they won in a fourth quarter rally.

Since moving to Iowa to attend Wartburg College, it's been impossible to ignore the rivalry. My girlfriend's family has sworn allegiance to the Hawkeyes and live near Iowa City. For years, I received hand-me-down Iowa shirts and the background noise of my football games was always slanted towards the Hawkeyes. My friends' televisions were always stuck to Hawkeye football and cries of victory or loss were always audible from dorms across campus.

The rivalry was always more interesting and fun than anything my small school could offer, and that's despite the number of "Beat Luther" shirts that are collecting dust in my closet right now.

While moving about an hour west from Waverly didn't offer a much different geographical landscape, the rivalry landscape shifted significantly. Now less than an hour from Ames, I see ISU gear everywhere. A few friends I have at Iowa State never miss a beat to give me grief about my Hawkeye indoctrination.

While the colors have changed, there's still that same electricity in the air when you hear a die hard Cyclone fan talking football.

It's hard to describe the rivalry to friends back in Illinois. Sure, the Bears and Packers rivalry is very alive, but it's nothing like the rivalry between these two Iowa schools.

It's something so decisive, but so unique and fun that my relatively limited knowledge of college football fails to find a comparison. Sure, there are plenty of other great rivalries in college football, but I bet few of them divide and bring together a large portion of an entire state at the same time. I appreciate that even as an outsider with no team to root for, even though it would be nice to claim bragging rights on Facebook.

I hope you, the reader, enjoy the game this weekend. Whether I'm at Kinnick or at my apartment, I'll be rocking a gray shirt that reads, "Beat the Other Team" while I try to get my grill working for some burgers and bratwurst and enjoy some quality football.



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