Proximity not the only key ingredient in a rivalry

Any schools in close proximity to each other are likely to have some sort of rivalry. It’s as natural as sibling rivalry, but proximity is not a necessary catalyst in some of the best rivalries.
There are a number of western Wisconsin rivalries that are worth watching, whether they are playing chess or football. You put Hudson against River Falls, New Richmond against Somerset, Ellsworth against Prescott, Glenwood City against Boyceville, etc., and you’ll get a heated, festering competition based on history as much as it is on geography. Young athletes in those rivalries have grown up seeing the venom and passion that goes into battling their neighbors and they can’t wait for their chance to prove that their town is better.
It borders on entertaining just to see how these rivalries start at a young age. When youth teams from these neighboring towns compete, there is already a heightened sense of dislike. The little athletes don’t know why their opponent is the enemy, they just know that they are.
Proximity isn’t the only reason for a great rivalry. Look at professional sports for proof of that. The most historic rivalry in the NBA is between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. There are some great local rivalries in the NFL, but some of the historic rivalries like that between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys have reached legendary status.
When proximity isn’t the main factor, competitiveness is. That goes for pro sports and runs just as true in college and high school sports.
Teams that are perennially successful are magnets for rivalries, especially when you get more than one long-standing power in a conference. Menomonie is a clear example of that in Big Rivers Conference football. Every BRC team probably thinks they have a rivalry, but it’s the teams that can give the Mustangs a battle every year, like Chippewa Falls, that deserve rivalry status.
The same can be said for Somerset in football or New Richmond in boys basketball. Every team likes to make a run at the kingpins in their conference, but until they can do it every year, it’s hard to see them earning rivalry status. Durand and Baldwin-Woodville are the teams that have probably been the most steady competition for Somerset football in its streak of Middle Border Conference titles, and Baldwin-Woodville has also probably been the best rival for New Richmond during its four-year basketball reign in the MBC.

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