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Sports rivalries are often closely connected with the ritualism associated with sports. Ritualism is "a series of ... iterated acts or performances that are ... famous in terms 'not entirely encoded by the performer'; that is, they are imbued by meanings external to the performer".[26] Everyone who is part of a sports event in some capacity becomes a part of the ritualism associated with sports. Teams get together before the game to warm-up, coaches shake hands with each other, captains have a determiner of who gets the ball first, everyone stands during the national anthem, the fans sit in specific areas, make certain gestures with their hands throughout the game, wearing specific gear that is associated with the team, and have the same post-game practices, every game of every season of every year.[27]:72 It is through this consistency of playing the same teams yearly that "these rivalries have shown remarkable staying power".[27]:49–50 Specifically, it is society's drive to disrupt these original rituals that start rivalries. Horst Helle says, "society needs a particular quantitative relationship of harmony and disharmony, association and competition, favour and disfavour, in order to take shape in a specific

Presumably, there is something unusual about their competitiveness. In most cases, the special significance can be attributed to a perception of acute threat to important values and interests.[5]

Sports[26] Everyone who is part of a sports event in some capacity becomes a part of the ritualism associated with sports. Teams get together before the game to warm-up, coaches shake hands with each other, captains have a determiner of who gets the ball first, everyone stands during the national anthem, the fans sit in specific areas, make certain gestures with their hands throughout the game, wearing specific gear that is associated with the team, and have the same post-game practices, every game of every season of every year.[27]:72 It is through this consistency of playing the same teams yearly that "these rivalries have shown remarkable staying power".[27]:49–50 Specifically, it is society's drive to disrupt these original rituals that start rivalries. Horst Helle says, "society needs a particular quantitative relationship of harmony and disharmony, association and competition, favour and disfavour, in order to take shape in a specific way".[26] Society is drawn to this in sports because this is a principal characteristic in everyday life, which can be seen in historic religious rivalries, such as the contemporary example of sectarianism in Glasgow. Within an area, differences between two types of people can drive the start of a rivalry. Competition and support keep the rivalry going.

In sports, competition tests who has better skill and ability at the time of the game through play. Many rivalries persist because the competition is between two teams that have similar abilities. Spectators gravitate towards competitive rivalries because they are interesting to watch and unpredictabl

In sports, competition tests who has better skill and ability at the time of the game through play. Many rivalries persist because the competition is between two teams that have similar abilities. Spectators gravitate towards competitive rivalries because they are interesting to watch and unpredictable. Society follows competitions because competitions influence "the unity of society". Being loyal to one team in a rivalry brings a sense of belonging to a community of supporters that are hoping that the team they are rooting for wins. The fans of the two different teams do not sit next to each other because this disrupts the community. In a similar way, competition displays an indirect way of fighting.[28] Society does not condone direct fighting as a way of getting something so this is the most passive-aggressive way of fighting. Because this is an acceptable practice, there are many supporters of competition as they fuel a way for the people to participate in a rivalry without the consequences of fighting. However, when the competition is not enough in sports and the tensions are high fighting may ensue.[28]

A sports writer codified the essentials of a sports rivalry in the United States. To be termed a rivalry, the competition requires 1) true hatred on both sides; not just an inferiority complex from one group of supporters. 2) Proximity - the closer, the better. 3) each team needs to have a winning season. Otherwise the team with the most wins can't take the other team seriously. 4) A "history." Short term rivalries seem irrelevant. 5) Not essential, but important for the "hate" factor is national significance (for college teams). Otherwise, no one else may care.[29]

Rivalries may increase motivation, lead to greater effort, and better performance.[30][31] They may also contribute to greater risk taking behavior among participants, and increase a propensity for unethical behavior.[12][32][33][34]

These difference may lead to poor decision making on the part of groups and individuals that may not otherwise take place in the absence of a rivalry. Examples examined in the literature include the 19

These difference may lead to poor decision making on the part of groups and individuals that may not otherwise take place in the absence of a rivalry. Examples examined in the literature include the 1994 attacks by figure skater Tonya Harding against her rival Nancy Kerrigan, the admission in court by British Airways that they had engaged in a number of unethical practices against their business rival Virgin Atlantic (including stealing confidential data and spreading rumors about CEO Richard Branson), and the overpayment of Boston Scientific in their acquisition (called the "second worst" ever) of Guidant, due to the fact that they were bidding against their rival company Johnson & Johnson.[7][34] At the extreme, competition between rivals "possesses some likelihood of escalation to physical damage".[5]