Duquesne Rival?: Dissecting a Rivalry

By Steven DiMiceli

This is the first part of a four part series I'll be doing this week where I attempt cast potential suitors for the role of "our rival."

So what is a rival and what makes a good rival? We constantly throw this term around in sports but it's a one of those familiar yet abstract terms that we know it when we see it.   However, it's not always easy to define without giving examples.Kind of like nostalgic or thoroughness.  To me,  rivals are two competitive and comparably skilled teams that through mutual determination of the either the players or fans and through frequent or meaningful competition over a period of time intensely engage one another to the point where the meeting becomes more than a normal game.  I don't think there is any one true means for evaluating first whether or not someone is a rival and second whether or not the rivalry is a strong one. For the purpose of this series, we'll be looking at the later to determine just who Duquesne's biggest rival is.

To set the criteria for evaluating what a rivalry is, let's look at my definition. The first part we'll look at is mutual determination. For a rivalry to work both sides need to agree that it's a rivalry. I've always thought that Pitt - Penn St football rivalry is a silly one because the rivalry is for the most part held only by Pitt fans. This involves both respect and dislike for the opposing program. Another characteristic that comes right out of the definition is importance of the games being played and how frequently these important games occur. Next we'll look at the staying power of the rivalry and whether it is competitive now and in the past. To me, 50 years old series are much stronger than those played a few times. We also need to take into account what both sides are likely to do to preserve the rivalry into the future. Finally we'll look at a category outside of the definition and that is how close  teams' home arenas are from one another. This allows for greater interaction between fan bases and the presence of fans from both sides at events. Proximity is not completely necessary but I do think it helps take rivalries to another level.

 I feel like rival for Duquesne is very loosely defined. I would argue that none of our rivalries are strong compared to Duke - UNC or Pitt - WVU, but some meet more of the criteria than others. I've chosen to  look at four teams that I feel have the best resumes: Dayton, Pitt, Robert Morris, and St. Bonaventure. All of those schools are a rival in some capacity.

Each criteria for rivalry will be broken down into sub criteria and each sub criteria will be rated on a scale from 1-10: The criteria and sub criteria as follows:

1. Mutual Determination - Identification by Us, Identification by them
2. Proximity - Distance, Fan Travel
3. Importance - Meaningfulness of Games, Frequency of Games
4. Staying Power - History, Competitiveness and Future

Each criteria will be assigned a total score and the four teams will be ranked in order for each criteria. The teams with the most points for a particular criteria will be given a 4, the lowest will be given a 1. A composite score will be determined by adding the ranking scores with the highest team being considered our strongest rival.

My methods are designed to appear scientific while being completely subjective. This series is of course based on my perspective but I think I have enough of a feel for our fan base to be representative. I will say this in the defense of the validity of this series, I did not define the criteria or evaluate teams with the objective of one team being named "our rival" over the others. In fact, the team I expected to take it and the one I viewed as our strongest rival prior to compiling this was not the team that ultimately won. While the study is far from perfect, I think the outcome makes a lot of sense when I look at the bigger picture on paper. Of course, you'll have to wait of couple of days to find out who it is.