Rowdy rivalry may ruin harmless fun

The University of Miami football team faces its biggest rival Saturday, and students are throwing themselves behind our school with more excitement and dedication than they may show for a presidential candidate.

What caused this brief and sudden surge in school spirit? Have students become more interested in football? No. The focal point of this elevated enthusiasm is, of course, Florida State University (FSU).

Rivalry with the Seminoles is key in drawing the UM community together. In the days leading up to the game, we have a common enemy and a shared purpose. Students discuss how early to get to the stadium and how to deck themselves out in orange and green, and they rave about our certain victory much more than they do for most other football games.

An “us versus them” mentality defines this sort of unification, manifesting itself primarily in FSU bashing. We not only joke about the Seminoles’ poor sports performance, but also about their poor academic performance. Behind our heightened love for UM is an ostensible hatred for FSU.

Of course, most of us don’t actually have any reason to hate FSU. For most students, this rivalry is just temporary entertainment. But it’s worth asking why it’s necessary to found school spirit on a fictional enemy, rather than on qualities intrinsic to UM itself.

After all, a “harmless rivalry” is only harmless until it’s not. Sports violence is not unheard of. It seems as easy as breathing, when cracking a joke about FSU in the hallway, for one to remind himself that he doesn’t actually hate FSU or any of its students. But on game day itself, rationality can easily be masked by the thrill of the competition or, in some cases, alcoholic intoxication.

The rivalry is ultimately exciting and unlikely to disappear. Nor should it; it is an indispensable part of the sports world and the college experience in general. We should all enjoy the game this weekend as well as the sense of school spirit and community in the days leading up to it.

But when you’re laughing with your friends about a Seminole’s propensity to wind up in jail or to commit socially unacceptable acts, just remember that they’re people too. Don’t let the jokes wipe away a Seminole’s humanity, or make you forget yours.

Because, after all, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.