Are rivalries good for kids?


Lela Payne, Staff Writer

For over half a century, Casper’s cross-town rivals, Kelly Walsh and Natrona County have been at each other’s throats; their nearly identical academic statistics according to, leave it up to the school’s sports teams to decide which school is “better.”

Kelly Walsh began this year with a bitter taste in their mouths when Natrona kept the Oil Bowl trophy for a sixth consecutive year with a score of 26-6 and also broke Kelly Walsh’s 5-year win streak by prevailing over the Lady Trojans in the annual Volley Bowl with a score of 3-0.

Though, according to one of Kelly Walsh’s staff member, Tiffany Payne, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing. “Having that rivalry makes the team work harder, they practice harder, they become more of a team, they become more solidified as a team, because there is that one common goal; beat your rival,” Payne said when asked if she believes having a rival team is a good or bad thing.

She goes on to say that having a rival and even losing to them just makes you want to try harder, so even though the team may have lost one game, it would be enough to push them to try again and again until they win.

“Of course, the support is awesome to have, especially under the stress of a rival game, but it very quickly becomes overbearing. The parents in the stands are loud, and generally are more verbally expressive than the players can be, so it’s hard to keep your head on straight when you mix all of the amped-up emotions with the shouts from every parent in the stands. I’m sure it’s not easy for the opposing team either.” Kelly Walsh track athlete, Abbie Hansen says.

Hansen addressed the crowds that gather for the games, conflicting the difference between an adult standpoint and a player one.

NC student Haylee Marshal agrees. “The games that I have gone to are much on the louder side, you practically have to shout to communicate with your friends. Sometimes I debate whether I really want to go or not.” Marshal said.

On the contrary, Hansen also believes the competition of a rival game may be too much. 

“I don’t actually like playing sports, I’m forced to.”

So what changed her mindset?  “Well, I used to absolutely love being involved in the basketball and track team in middle school, but everything was so much simpler, because you knew it was ok to fail, but playing sports now has just started to become repetitive and stressful; seeming like if you mess up even in the slightest, you would feel like the center of the reason you failed. To be honest, I know people say that practice makes perfect, but it is like high school sports are trying to defy that; like they want you to try again and again but in turn, you just feel exhausted and overwhelmed,” said Hansen. 

The Miller Cup, Casper’s annual Wrestling dual, packs the gym full of intense fans and coaches as Kelly Walsh and Natrona face off again. Natrona beat KW for the trophy for the 2nd consecutive time last year.

“I like the competition, honestly. I mean, yeah, it gets hard, but that’s what I think is the fun part. It sucks to lose but it feels even better to win. But it would depend on the sportsmanship of the teams too; sometimes both NC and KW can be a bit mean during and after games and matches.” Kelly Walsh wrestling athlete Tristan Harns said. 

Harns mentioned the good and the bad, pointing out that the stress of a rival match can affect the attitude of everyone, positively, such as the team supporting you and being there to back you up. But it can also have a negative effect, like the harshness the teams show each other, both on their own team and to their opponents.

According to multiple people answering the question, ‘Is America the only country to offer competitive sports?’ on, one respondent, Becca Royal-Gordon, an alumnus of Kent University in England, who said, “Britan has school sports teams for students of equivalent ages (there’s nothing exactly equivalent to ‘high school’ in Britain), but they aren’t usually taken as seriously as in America.”

Sports in America are taken seriously on a completely different level than the rest of the world.  The one exception being the rest of the world’s obsession with soccer, which every other country calls football.

Like anything, there are pros and cons to America’s obsession with sports. And rivalries add a new level of intensity. One can’t deny the competitiveness seen in US sports and the fact that that competition is quite entertaining. Others say it affects Americans negatively, such as increasing animosity and sometimes violence amongst opponents. Many however,  counter with “that’s just how America is.”

No matter how the debate is viewed, sports are not going anywhere in America and neither are the ever-important rivalries.