Pollsters ask the same question every year:
What's the best rivalry in college football?
The results are usually the same—Ohio State vs. Michigan generally wins out. Auburn and Alabama fans, though, would tell you otherwise.
And they may just be right.
Instead of asking which is the college game's “best” rivalry, we perhaps need to be asking which is the most “unhealthy” rivalry.
Make this change, and you’ve got a clear winner.
The Auburn-'Bama rivalry knows no boundaries. It isn't a game in the state of Alabama—it’s a way of life.
This rivalry ruins business partnerships, marriages, and families. After Alabama lost in double overtime to Arkansas, a man was charged with attempted murder for holding a gun to his son’s head in the middle of a tantrum and pulling the trigger.
Not exactly what the average fan does after a loss—but in this rivalry the news isn’t shocking.
The grandparents of a friend of mine actually refused to attend his wedding because Auburn was playing a football game that same day...and it was against a Division I-AA team.
Take a look at wedding statistics in Alabama—you’ll find that the number drops drastically in the months of September, October, and November.
I’m willing to bet that the number of nuptials occurring on the day of the Auburn-Alabama game is the lowest of any Saturday of the year.
I’m also willing to bet that I’ll get some flak for listing Auburn's name first when I mention both schools.
Don't worry Alabama fans—next time I’ll put Alabama's name first.
Alabama and Auburn (see) didn't play for over 40 years because of bickering over money and officials. When they decided to play again, they physically buried a hatchet.
It may be time to do that again.
Auburn and Alabama are frequent targets of the NCAA probation police. It’s no coincidence, seeing as each school is constantly trying to find evidence of shifty business practiced by the other.
To make matters worse, message boards are now fueling rumors. The Mike Price stripper scandal, for example, started on an Auburn message board and spread like wildfire.
Unfortunately, violence between the schools' fanbases has also reared its ugly head in recent years. Seven Auburn students were injured after a fan screaming “Roll Tide!” outside a fraternity house incited a violent fight.
Five of the victims had stab wounds.
Which maybe means it's time to take a step back.
Remember, this is a game played by 18- to 23-year-old kids. As it stands, the rivalry isn't "great." It's sick.
Most fans will admit that they hate the annual Iron Bowl, as the Auburn/Alabama OR Alabama/Auburn matchup is called. It’s just too much pressure to stomach—the game sets the stage for the next 365 days of their lives.
What if the game were discontinued for a year or two?
I think it might do some good.
Most fans would see that their lives aren't much different without the rivalry. Then they could realize that a football game shouldn't be so important.
There could even be another "bury the hatchet" ceremony. Then again, that would raise the question of what color the shovel should be, and off we’d go.
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