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Top Ten in Sports

10 biggest sports rivalries

When there is a sports rivalry, you can feel it in the air. Crowds more intense, stakes higher. Here's 10 of the biggest sports rivalries we love to watch.


Who doesn’t love a good sports rivalry? Even if you have no stake in the game, a good old-fashioned rivalry makes any sporting event more exciting. When the competition is that intense, the crowds are bigger and the tension is higher. Narrowing down the top 10 is no easy feat, and there will certainly be some disagreements with the exclusion of certain teams and sports. Depending on where you’re from and what sports you love, your list could look completely different. In this list, I’ve included rivalries from the NFL, MLB, NHL, soccer clubs, and college football. So, get some popcorn and enjoy (reading about) the fights.

Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers

The Bears and Packers have been playing each other since the start of the NFL and are two of the oldest teams in the league. The rivalry between the two teams began in 1921 and they’ve played in the same conference since the NFL adapted the format in 1933. With the exception of two years (1922 and 1982), the two teams have played each other every year and it never gets old watching them fight for the win in the middle of winter at Lambeau Field or Soldier Field.

Philadelphia Flyers vs Pittsburgh Penguins

This rivalry even has its own nickname - the Battle of Pennsylvania. The two hockey teams play in the same division, the NHL’s Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division. The rivalry began in 1967 and have met in the Stanley Cup playoffs four times in 10 seasons between 2008-2018. That, plus the Flyers’ (aka the “Broad Street Bullies) pension for playing physical have reinforced the rivalry.

Manchester United vs Manchester City

When these two intra-city soccer teams play each other, it’s known as the “Manchester derby”. Both teams are two of the best in the world and usually make it to the final stages of the UEFA Champions League. The rivalry has been reignited even more in recent years due to City becoming one of the richest and best teams in the world after being bought by an oil baron, bringing the rivalry to a whole new level.

University of Texas vs Oklahoma University

Also known as the Red River Rivalry/Shootout/Showdown, this game is one of the most anticipated in college football. In October in Dallas, Texas, it’s one of the things people look forward to most, along with the Texas State Fair. The smell of fried foods, the sounds of gleeful screams from roller coasters, and the visuals of a sea of burnt orange and maroon all go together. The OU Sooners and the UT Longhorns play at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and have been playing each other since 1900; the rivalry has continued annually since 1929. The two border states are rivals in many ways as it stands, but the two college teams have something at stake: the Golden Hat - a ten-gallon golden hat, kept by the winning team school’s athletic department for the year.

FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid

The European soccer clubs really know how to do rivalries. Known as “El Clásico”, the matchup between these two teams is one of the biggest club soccer games in the world and one of the most viewed. Madrid and Barcelona are two of the biggest cities in Spain and known for their opposing political views, which adds more intensity to the rivalry between the soccer teams. The two teams are also among the richest and most successful in the world.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens

The Steelers and Ravens are always in the battle to be at the top of the AFC North. This rivalry is known for being one of the most physical and intense in the NFL. Since 1996, they have played each other at least twice a year and they are the only teams in the AFC North to have won the Super Bowl. The Steelers have won six and the Ravens have won two.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

The Lakers and Celtics rivalry has stood the test of time. Often referred to as the greatest rivalry in the NBA, the two teams, who aren’t even in the same conference, dominated the league in the 60s and 80s. The rivalry was at its most intense during the Magic Johnson and Larry Bird era, but it still goes on, with both teams tied for the highest number of championships in the NBA (17 total).

Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles

The Cowboys and Eagles is a heated rivalry in the NFC East with the Cowboys leading the overall series. The matchup between the two can get ugly. Eagles fans have a long-standing hatred of the Cowboys and have been known to lash out against supporters. Remember when Michael Irvin was hauled off the field in Philly with a neck injury and Eagles fans actually cheered? Brutal. In fact, rather than saying “Go Eagles”, most Philly fans just say, “Dallas sucks”.

San Francisco Giants vs Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers and Giants rivalry is one of the longest in American baseball. They started as New York rivals before they were both moved to California, preserving the rivalry. Los Angeles and San Francisco have been in competition in many ways, including political, economical, and cultural, so it just makes sense they would be in competition in baseball too. This is one of the biggest sports rivalries because of its ability to withstand the test of time and a cross-country move.

New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox

Boston and New York City are rival cities, and the Yankees and Red Sox are both in the AL East division. I would argue that this is THE biggest rivalry in American sports. There is a legend called the “Curse of the Bambino” which began when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold star player Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919, which was followed by an 86-year drought with no World Series wins for the Red Sox. As for the cities, they rival economically and culturally. As for the sports, well, it’s widely regarded as the greatest rivalry in all sports. When the Yankees and Red Sox play each other, you can guarantee lots of media coverage and stadium attendance, despite whether or not there are playoff implications.


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