It's the Rivalry: State vs. Carolina.
Through thick and thin, win or lose, we were there at the stadium every game. We were in front of the TV as youngsters, cheering louder than anyone in the room, despite the fact that we knew nothing of the rules of the game. You knew deep down that you wanted the team wearing those same colors as you to win, and you knew you wanted the other team to lose so bad it made your stomach twist.
No matter what side of the Rivalry you were born into, you knew it was Your Side, and if anyone challenged you on that fact, he or she was a sworn enemy from that day forth.
|Sept. 26, 1992 - Natrone Means|
Made a new friend on the playground that likes kickball? Great! You're my new best friend! Oh, wait, you pull for who? Them?
Hmmm. Well, uh, I gotta go. Maybe I'll see you around, you know, like at the cafeteria or something…
Most of us can remember that first time when we knew which side we were on. We remember it vividly because, well, it was one of the first and most tangible moments in which you defined who you were as a person.
It was as if one day you woke up and said "I am a ‘State Fan.' You are a ‘Carolina Fan.' And guess where that leaves us."
On opposite sides of the fence, that's where. From that day forth you spent every spare breath defending your position. You shouted about records. You shouted about players. You argued over the meaningless nature of the other kids stats because "that was last year. This is this year."
I can clearly remember arguing with a "flock" of Carolina fans in elementary school about how my Pack, under the leadership of Dick Sheridan in his finest years, were gonna pound the poop (or kacka, or turds, or whatever the dope fecal slang was at the time) out of the Heels. Their response? Just wait until basketball season…
And that's what you did--you refused to give up ground. You became so skilled in the art of spin doctoring at the tender age of nine that even James Carville would've been impressed. A loss? No! Moral victory! We let them win! We just wanted to see how we would respond under pressure, so we "let" our star quarterback come out with a "fake" knee injury.
Spin it, baby. Hold your ground.
Well, time passes, you grow up and you mature as a person. It's the law of nature. But the Rivalry is bigger than nature. It supercedes all of the maturation process. It can dictate that you, as a 25-year-old man, have every right to tell that Blue-shirt-wearing complete stranger passing you on the street, "Hey, what happened to your boys last night? They really stunk it up! Phew!"
Do you know him? No. Is he a nice guy? Maybe. Never met him. But you know one thing for sure. You hate him. And he hates you.
And guess what? That's a beautiful thing.
James Curle, class of 2001, was a sports writer and photographer at the Technician while attending NCSU. He has also written for the Cary News and the Wolfpacker.