On Sept. 6, both Sleepy Eye schools will have their first home football games of the season, and they happen to be against each other. I’ve heard from locals it’s the most attended Sleepy Eye sporting event of the year.
A while ago, someone here at the paper told me a previous sports writer got complaints for calling the two schools a “rivalry” and he responded with a column of his own defending his opinion.
This is a tough one for me. Technically, the two schools do fit the definition of a crosstown rivalry. They are two schools, located across town from one another, and both fighting for a common goal that only one can possess, which fits the definitions of “crosstown” and “rivalry.” However, according to Wikipedia, a crosstown rivalry usually occurs within larger, metropolitan areas, because each team represents a different part of the city. This brings me to my next point.
I grew up in a city with over 65,000 people and four high schools. I can tell you first hand there definitely was a crosstown rivalry between the schools. I went to one of the two public schools in town, and the students from the two schools did not interact with each other. It literally was almost like two separate worlds, with my high school representing the south side of town while the fittingly named “North High School” represented the north side. Although it’s strange, the rivalry makes sense, because the town is so large that the students create their own communities and always looked at the other school as its enemy.
But here in Sleepy Eye, it’s one big community and to me it’s not really a rivalry when everyone knows each other. When a town is so small that athletes are used from both schools for several sports, it’s not a rivalry. In small towns, everyone is a neighbor, friend, co-worker, family member, or acquaintance of some sort. Residents here don’t give other residents that certain vibe that says, “Oh he must be from the other side of town.”
In summary, I believe in crosstown rivalries but not really here in Sleepy Eye. I agree more with Wikipedia, and how they happen more in larger cities. Either way, you don’t need a rivalry to make a crosstown football game exciting. It will be fun whether you call it a rivalry or not.
Fun facts: my girlfriend and I went to rival high schools and we still to this day have friends that are astonished that we are together, just because we went to opposite schools. Pretty crazy. Also, I found out that the Church of the Lutheran Confession was originated in Sleepy Eye and is headquartered at one of the private high schools in my hometown of Eau Claire, Wis. Small world.