This piece was submitted as part of what is quickly becoming a series on the nature of UNC and N.C. State’s sporting relationship (hell, let’s call it a rivalry). Feel free to read the piece that sparked this response for context.
“Keep Calm” memes. Fantasy Sports. TV shows about other TV shows. These things are on the short list of the worst things in the world. Random, yes. I only bring them up to set the context for what is THE worst thing in the world: the Sell Out Letter.
We all know what the Sell Out Letter is. It usually starts with two groups with differing views or that outright hate each other (liberals and conservatives, Yankees and Southerners, me and all of my ex-girlfriends), and ends with someone disparaging his or her group to earn some fleeting approval or a dose of attention from the other side.
It’s like when Megan McCain goes on MSNBC and trashes Republicans. Or if a liberal went on Fox News and trashed Obama, if that ever happened (sorry, but political Sell Outs are just the most prominent examples). Or when a UNC student writes a letter to N.C. State’s student newspaper condemning UNC’s “arrogance.”
Why do I bring this up? Because I don’t want anyone to confuse what I’m saying with a Sell Out Letter. Sure, there will be elements of it (I am about to disagree with many of my fellow Tar Heels), but the most important elements will not be there. I do not want any approval from State fans. Seriously, they can all go to hell. But I am about to say something most State fans probably agree with: there is absolutely a rivalry between UNC and NCSU.
But before I give you my reasons, I had to make sure no one could call me a Sell Out, which as I’ve said, is probably the worst thing in the world. It’s the sleaziest thing you can do because it’s totally disingenuous. The Sell Out knows the other side is going to eat it up (i.e. “See!! Even Republican/Democrat X thinks their own side is wrong!! See!!”). The Sell Out Letter is just short of making a sex tape and “accidentally” releasing it to get attention. And for whatever reason, the Sell Out seems to consistently rear its ugly head within sports rivalries.
Not only is the Sell Out selling out their own group, they’re catering to the group they’re supposed to hate. And they’re doing both at the same time. That’s like some triple or even quadruple sleaziness.
So how do I know that UNC and State have a rivalry? Because we are always fucking talking about it.
I was watching a local newscast this past basketball season when a reporter asked several game attendees if they thought there was a rivalry between the two schools. Their answers aren’t important. What is important is the fact that she asked the question at all. She didn’t ask them if they thought there were Moon Olympics, or a smartphone that actually works well as a phone — because those things obviously don’t exist. No, she asked them if UNC and State have a rivalry. And just like how Descartes proved the existence of God by thinking about the existence of God, we’ve proven the rivalry exists by talking about it.
How did we even get to the point of questioning this?
I heard the “not our rival” sentiment from Tar Heel fans for the first time when I was at UNC around 2007. I remember being really confused at first. In my gut I knew it was wrong, like when you meet someone who prefers mustard-based barbecue sauce. But knowing how ridiculous the notion of a non-rivalry was, I just tried to ignore it as I did the last few seasons of The Simpsons. But somehow, this idea perpetuated by UNC fans kept growing.
There are two main reasons for this:
UNC/Duke. This is one of the great rivalries in sports for many reasons: public vs. private, Southern vs. Yankee, beautiful women vs. whatever kind of students goes to Duke. And while it is mostly limited to basketball (OK, totally limited to basketball), you can’t ignore the fact that it’s one of the most compelling rivalries in sports — and I didn’t even have to mention fences or checkpoints. So if your thinking is that a school can only have one rival — then yeah, N.C. State and UNC aren’t rivals by that definition. Duke always takes precedence for UNC.
UNC and Duke boast two of the better sports programs in all of college athletics, and have for decades (‘cus we cheat, amIright?!). “State isn’t our rival” is just another way for UNC fans to say State isn’t good enough for us. Or something like that (arrogance, amIright?!).
It just really, really, pisses off State fans. And yes, I know I said two reasons and not three, and the first two reasons were kind of the same reason. But hey, remember, I went to UNC — I took math in the Swahili department. Which means I didn’t take math at all.
To be fair to everyone, let’s not pretend like this discussion is an exact science. Many of the same reasons State fans (and I) would claim that UNC and State are rivals should pertain to Duke/State as well. And State and Duke don’t seem to have much animosity between each other, at all.
The only part about all of this that is an exact science is the following definition of a rivalry:
1. Noun — Competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.
So, UNC fans, the fact that the W-L record might be a bit one-sided isn’t the significant qualifier here. State and UNC are rivals. Period. I know this because we fight over the same turf and I want to beat the living shit out of them every time we play. For a brief moment I was sort of pulling for their baseball team this summer (I call myself Carlos Rodon when I pitch in kickball), but that ended when Pack Pride started digging through trash cans for rental car receipts. Other than that, yeah, it’s a rivalry.
If my fellow Tar Heels want to say, “Sure, we’re rivals, but just not as much as Duke,” that’s fine. But have fun making that into a chant that sounds as good as “not our rival.” I tried — it didn’t work.
Unfortunately, it seems I have alienated my own alumni base, and still managed to piss off State fans by talking a ton of shit.
But hey, at least I’m not a Sell Out.
Jordan Rogers is a 2009 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate who thinks he is some sort of comedian. He is also an editor at WCHL and Chapelboro.com. Jordan keeps his personal affects at TheBlackFalcon.net and @blackfalcon_net on Twitter.