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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Sept. 8, 2006

Rivalry hits the gridiron Sept. 16

by Erin Rosacker

According to Webster's New World Dictionary, the definition of rival is: "one who tries to get the same thing as another, or to equal or surpass another; competitor."

Beat Iowa t-shirts

Iowa State's second-straight football win over in-state rival Iowa is on the line when the Cyclones travel to Iowa City for an 11:05 a.m. kickoff Sept. 16. Photo by Bob Elbert.

In the case of the Iowa-Iowa State football game Sept. 16, a year's worth of bragging rights -- for the program and the fans -- is on the line.

Understanding rivalry

"It's just natural for people to compare themselves. Competition is built into it and we're just by nature competitive," explained Janet Brown, a family life field specialist for ISU Extension.

That competitive drive is a major part of any rivalry, whether it's between siblings, departments, schools or businesses. But is that a bad thing?

"I think, in competition, we keep assessing ourselves, and that's healthy," Brown said. "Asking, 'Can I do better? Is this the best we can do or best we can be?' I think when we keep reassessing ourselves, that's a good part (of competition)."

Brown identified four basic needs that everyone has: power, enjoyment, belonging and independence. Satisfying some of those needs vicariously through a team's performance may help explain why so many people invest their emotions into the outcome of a football game.

It's all French to me

While the outcome of the Iowa-Iowa State game may impact some profoundly, the mania isn't infectious for everyone.

Matthew Doyle, assistant professor in economics, is a casual fan and says he can appreciate the excitement of following a team through its ups and downs. His wife, Stéphanie Lluis, who is an assistant professor in the Industrial Relations Center at the University of Minnesota, has a different perspective.

"Some people have a favorite team and that's how they identify themselves," Lluis said. "I can understand that."

But ask her what the word "rivalry" conjures up in her mind.

"Well, I'm French, and I first think of knights," she laughed.

Location, location, location

According to Pat Dennis, a conference services coordinator at the Iowa State Center, the location of the Iowa-Iowa State football game impacts some groups as they schedule events, especially social dates such as weddings.

"Most of our Saturday business is wedding receptions and they get a little bit concerned, about hotel rooms more than anything," Dennis said.

With this year's game being played in Iowa City, the center's schedule book looks a bit different than a year ago when the game was at Jack Trice Stadium.

"This year, we have two conferences going on," Dennis said.

Last year was a different story.

"Other than the big Iowa Bankers tailgate, we had no events here and, for a Saturday, that's uncommon. We almost always have something on a Saturday in September."

Anita Elliott, event coordinator at the Memorial Union, also sees a difference from year to year.

"For the away games, we probably have more events than we do for the home games," Elliott said. "We don't get a whole lot of events in the Union during football weekends."

Going head-to-head with this year's game, which kicks off at 11:05 a.m., is the 15th annual Growth Factor and Signal Transduction Symposium and the Early Hearing Conference at the center. The Memorial Union is playing host to the bookstore's Little Critter Costume Story Time and a regular meeting of the wargamers and role players group.


"It's just natural for people to compare themselves. Competition is built into it and we're just by nature competitive."

Janet Brown, family life field specialist for ISU Extension