Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Respect, Tradition And Rivalry

When it comes to the holiday season, tradition seems to ooze from nearly every corner and crevice of the lives of most people. Whether it's a favorite food or a cross-country trip we make only once a year, our unique holiday traditions are what make this a special time of year.

In sports, as in politics, traditions often come with rivalries - and aren't always easy to achieve.

Take the Husker football team's road to a final Big 12 Conference championship game with their rival of nearly a century, the Oklahoma Sooners.

Suffice to say, the Huskers had a tough time getting to the championship this year, including a Nebraska-Texas A&M matchup that included some horrible officiating and some controversy over Head Coach Bo Pelini's behavior on the sidelines.

While Coach Pelini's actions were colorful, and some folks seemed to not have much of a stomach for them, we were proud that he stood up for his players so strongly - and also proud that he and the team apologized and moved on from the game, instead of dwelling on their poor play, the horrible conduct of the officiating crew, and the disgusting actions of some Nebraska fans.

Rivalries often have a way of bringing out the best in all of us - and we think that's what has motivated Coach Pelini and his team to move on from the A&M game, to focus, change their attitude, beat Colorado, and lock in on the game the Huskers will play this weekend.

Traditional rivals aren't just another opponent we face in athletic or academic contests. We have all have rivals throughout our lives: high-caliber political cartoonists who have opposing political viewpoints; high quality writers and editors who challenge our abilities and vie for jobs with us; even quality webmasters who go about creating things in a way different from our own.

True rivals are those who beat us nearly as often as we beat them, with whom we come in contact almost as much as we do with our fellow workers.

The time when a rivalry becomes something more is when that rivalry becomes a tradition of respect, a way of viewing our opponents not as enemies, but as our equals. The best rivalries often have a strong component of friendship in them, and a long history of shared success - and failure.

For nearly a century, the University of Nebraska and the University of Oklahoma have battled on a regular basis on the football field, among other places. It's the kind of rivalry that few have, inside or outside sports. We couldn't wish for a better ending to Nebraska's time in the Big 12 conference.

True rivals respect each other enough to be on their best behavior while they fight tooth and nail - something our politicians in Washington would be wise to learn from some of our young collegiate athletes.

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