The annals of history have produced some epic rivalries: countrymen pitted against each other, friend turned into foe, mortal enemies locked in the fires of eternal combat—in the grand scope of time, where does the Baylor/McCallie rivalry rank amongst the great vendettas of civilization?
#10 - HARRY POTTER v. VOLDEMORT
“The Boy Who Lived” is just the type of nickname you earn yourself when you become the first person to ever survive a killing curse. “The Dark Lord” is just the type of nickname you earn yourself when you split your soul into fractured pieces in order to achieve eternal life and murder innocent witches and wizards across the world. From the night these two first interact until one of them is ultimately vanquished (as the prophecy reads, “Neither can live while the other survives), the Harry Potter/Voldemort rivalry is an absolute classic.
Signature Moment: Their duel in Goblet of Fire. On first read/watch, you can’t help but feel that Harry is absolutely toast, moreso than at any other time in the saga. I mean he seems completely outmatched and helpless against Voldemort’s power. It’s the place in the series that serves as the turning point. Stuff gets real.
The Quote: “You’re the weak one. And you'll never know love or friendship. And I feel sorry for you.” – Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
What Makes It Unique: Not only were these two steadfast rivals, but Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort were connected like nobody else on this list. That is to say, they were literally intertwined with each other physically: part of Potter lived inside Voldemort and was thus one of the Dark Lord’s horcruxes. Voldemort can actually see into Potter’s mind and manipulate his thoughts. No other rivalry has that type of intimacy between the foes.
Who Wins: HARRY POTTER. It’s pure good versus pure evil. Of course Harry was going to win.
#9 - MR. KRABS v. PLANKTON
Mr. Krabs and Plankton grew up the closest of friends, and even started their own restaurant, but their relationship quickly soured after Old Man Jenkins died eating one of their specially-made burgers. The two friends split up, and have been at war ever since.
Signature Moment: Making Spongebob choose who the real Mr. Krabs is while Plankton is the Krabs imposter robot.
The Quote: “Ravioli ravioli give me the formuoli!” – Plankton
What Makes It Unique: It’s a quintessential example of the friend turned into foe rivalry, as well as one of the most one-sided vendettas ever. What’s brilliant about this rivalry is its focal point: The Krabby Patty Secret Formula. Everything hinges on that one document.
Who Wins: MR. KRABS. But it only takes one lucky turn of events for Plankton to completely swing the rivalry in his favor—as he did for much of The Spongebob Squarepants Movie with Plan Z.
#8 - HANNIBAL v. ROME
Hannibal swore a life oath as a child to fight Romans after his homeland of Carthage was defeated in the First Punic War. By the time he had amassed a large enough army, Hannibal set out for Italy from Spain, launching Rome and Carthage into the Second Punic War.
Signature Moment: Crossing the Alps. Hannibal led 46,000 soldiers into the Swiss Alps (which, if you didn’t know, are quite tall—and rather cold) during the dead of winter. And he brought war elephants (they’re as big and scary as they sound). By journey’s end, Hannibal had successfully led 26,000 of his soldiers and a smattering of his war elephants over the Alps and into Italy, primed for a surprise attack on the Romans. It wasn’t the most efficient route, but it elevated Hannibal into mythic status.
The Quote: “I will either find a way, or make one.” – Latin proverb attributed to Hannibal
What Makes It Unique: The Roman Republic and eventual Empire faced very little adversity in their conquering of peoples. The glaring exception to this Roman dominance of the Mediterranean and the western world was Carthage during the Second Punic War. This legendary general Hannibal nearly brought the Republic to its knees.
Who Wins: ROME. Rome ultimately prevails victorious in the Second Punic War, with Scipio Africanus besting Hannibal; in the Third Punic War some years later, Rome famously wreaked havoc on Carthage, laying waste to the great city, murdering the roots of the crops, and essentially wiping an entire civilization off the face of the Earth. It’s safe to say Rome would not have struck back against Carthage with such untamed viciousness if Hannibal hadn’t scared the snot out of them decades earlier. Hannibal’s greatest moments led to Rome’s most savage victory.
#7 - ARMY v. NAVY
Also knows as “America’s Game,” the Army/Navy contest is one of the oldest rivalries in college football. For many of the seniors who take the field that evening, it is potentially the final time they will ever take a competitive football field before dedicating themselves to the service of their country.
Signature Moment: There may be a recency bias here, but nothing beats the 2017 Army/Navy game. Everything about it was befitting the high stakes of the rivalry: the relentless snowfall, the slick uniforms, the nail-biting finish. Trailing 14-13, Navy had a chance to win the game in the final seconds with an impossibly long field goal under the conditions, but the kick was struck beautifully. Nevertheless, it leaked out wide to the left, and Army was victorious for the second year in a row.
The Quote: “The Army and the Navy are the best of friends in the world 364-1/2 days a year, but on one Saturday afternoon, we’re the worst of enemies” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1915 (West Point alum, future General of the U.S. Army and President of the United States)
What Makes It Unique: The Army/Navy gridiron clash transcends sports, and is the only sporting event to consistently have this effect year after year, regardless of how close the game is, how good the teams are, or anything related to football. It’s a field made up entirely of people who are willing to die for those watching. It’s an event in a league of its own.
Who Wins: THE PLAYERS. All the men who play on that field—as well as the cadets and shippies watching from the stands—will go on from this game to serve.
#6 - ADOLF HITLER & NAPOLEON BONAPARTE v. THE RUSSIAN WINTER
Hitler and Napoleon both had in common their insatiable quests for empire; Hitler annexed Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Belgium, and France in the late 1930s and early 1940s, while Napoleon acquired lands in Egypt, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Poland, and Spain in the early 19th century. Their successes would take a drastic turn against them once they focused their attention on invading Russia.
Signature Moment: Battle of Stalingrad. This World War II slugfest lasted for five months through the winter of 1942-43 and was fought between Hitler’s Germans and the Soviet Union. Stalingrad was the deadliest battle in the history of warfare, with two million fatalities. The conflict ended in a decisive Russian victory that turned the tide of the war on the Eastern Front and reversed German gains from the previous summer. It was the first of a series of colossal blows dealt to Hitler’s forces that previously had seemed indestructible.
The Quote: “From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.” – Napoleon Bonaparte, 10 December 1812, speaking about troubles in invading Russia
What Makes It Unique: This is a classic example of “history repeats itself.” There’s also something so obvious about the fact that you just shouldn't attack Russians in Russia in the worst conditions imaginable. It’s a great “Icarus” example as well, where you stretch the limits of your powers just one time too many and it comes back to bite you. But the fact that it happened twice is hilarious.
Who Wins: THE RUSSIAN WINTER. Every time! Seriously y’all, just invade Russia in the summer. Do you really think you’ve got an advantage over the Russian people on their turf when it’s freezing cold outside? They’ve got their vodka. Never underestimate the Russians!
#5 - THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. v. TUPAC SHAKUR
Another classic example of close friend turned into mortal foe, the Tupac/Biggie rivalry is the best in music history. It represented something far greater than the rappers themselves—it was Bad Boys versus Death Row Records, East Coast versus West; and at the center of this contentious feud, at the personal level, stood the two best artists from each side: Tupac Shakur of Los Angeles and The Notorious B.I.G. of Brooklyn.
Signature Moment: Tupac and Biggie were close friends in the early 90s; the whole concept of an East/West Coast rivalry hadn’t taken shape yet. But everything was to change on the evening of November 30, 1994, when Tupac visited Quad Recording Studios in New York City—where Biggie was recording that night—and Tupac was shot five times, beaten, and robbed by unidentified assailants. From that moment on, the West Coast/East Coast feud was born, changing the face of hip hop for the remainder of the decade.
The Quote: “I was more shocked than anything…[Tu]pac is a strong dude….When he died, I was just like ‘whoa,’ you know what I’m saying….Even though we was going through our drama, I would never wish death on nobody, you know what I’m saying?” – The Notorious B.I.G., 1997
What Makes It Unique: No other rivalry on such a huge scale—between the country’s two biggest cities, New York and Los Angeles, between rap’s two biggest record studios, Bad Boys and Death Row—can be reduced to two central figures, each influential and astounding as artists in their own right, who served as the microcosms of a much larger conflict.
Who Wins: BOTH. Tragically, Tupac and Biggie were killed in 1996 and 1997, respectively. To this day, both cases remain unsolved. Both rappers were killed in the primes of their careers, but in the short time they lived, both were able to inspire whole generations of Americans through the power of their music, and for that reason both Tupac and Biggie get the nod.
#4 - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA) v. UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS (USSR)
At the end of World War II, two international superpowers had emerged: the United States and the USSR. Well, it just so happened that these were the only two countries by 1950 to have developed nuclear weapons, holding with them the power to potentially wipe out entire cities. This threat was the Cold War, which raged in the 1950s and 1960s and lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990.
Signature Moment: At the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., the Russians were touted as the best in the world and by far the best in the Olympics. The American squad was made up of a bunch of college kids, most of whom weren’t even professionals—a real ragtag group of misfit toys who had zero chance against the mighty Soviets. But somehow, someway, the Americans defeated the Russians in what became known as “The Miracle on Ice.” It occurred during the decades of tense Russo-American relations; American Dave Organ said, “For people who were born between 1945 and 1955, they know where they were when John Kennedy was shot, when man walked on the moon, and when the USA beat the Soviet Union in Lake Placid.”
The Quote: “Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines.” – General “Buck” Turgidson, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
What Makes It Unique: The world has never seen two superpowers locked in a “who blinks first” scenario where the push of a single button can launch the world into a nuclear holocaust. For humanity, the stakes never felt higher than in the Cold War—one misstep could end in annihilation.
Who Wins: USA. Thankfully, this rivalry never really played itself out. But it did see the proxy hockey contest at the Olympics. The USA won that, so I’ll go with America here (it doesn’t help the Soviet case that their government collapsed to end the Cold War).
#3 - NEW YORK YANKEES v. BOSTON RED SOX
So in 1919, the Boston Red Sox let their star pitcher, a guy by the name of Babe Ruth (maybe you’ve heard of him), travel south to New York City in what Sports Illustrated recently called “the most talked about bargain since Faust sold his soul to the devil.” Well bad move, Boston. From the time of Ruth’s trade in 1919 until 2000, the New York Yankees won 26 titles. The Red Sox never won a World Series again until 2004.
Signature Moment: The final glorious act during the “Curse of the Bambino” climaxed with Aaron Boone’s walk-off blast in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, launching the Yankees to yet another World Series, and sending Boston back to Massachusetts in disappointment yet again.
The Quote: “I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.” – Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, 2004 (after this Martinez would forever be serenaded with “Who’s Your Daddy?” jeers from Yankee fans)
What Makes It Unique: No other rivalry has been the centerpiece of such extreme suffering and joy. Red Sox fans consistently suffered from the Babe Ruth trade through 2003, watching bitterly while Yankees fans got to celebrate a record 26 championships. And perhaps no elation in the sporting world could match that felt by Sox fans in 2004 once they finally exorcised the Yankee demons and forever broke the Curse of the Bambino.
Who Wins: THE YANKEES. And it’s not even close. One statistic ends all debates from Boston fans here: 27 to eight (that’s World Series championships—maybe don’t let Babe Ruth go to your division rival, Boston).
#2 - DUKE v. NORTH CAROLINA
The Duke/Carolina blood runs at its hottest on the hardwood, when the two teams meet twice each year, once in Durham and once in Chapel Hill. And it almost always sorts itself out in classic fashion.
Signature Moment: When Duke played in Carolina in 2005, the Blue Devils had won 10 out of the past 11 games in the series. Carolina was ranked second in the country under new coach Roy Williams, and it looked like they were back to powerhouse status—but they would need to beat their rival to prove it. The Smith Center was packed to capacity: 22,125 spectators, which to this day remains the record for a Carolina home game. But Duke led the game by nine points with just over three minutes remaining in regulation. Carolina led a ferocious comeback; in the final seconds, they trailed 73-72 with Raymond Felton at the free throw line looking to give the Tar Heels the lead and launch the program back into national prominence. I’ll let you watch what happened from there.
The Quote: “To legions of otherwise reasonable adults, it is a conflict that surpasses sports; it is locals against outsiders, elitists against populists, even good against evil....The rivalry may be a way of aligning oneself with larger philosophic ideals—of choosing teams in life—a tradition of partisanship that reveals the pleasures and even the necessity of hatred.” – Will Blythe (North Carolina graduate)
What Makes It Unique: From a statistical perspective, Duke and Carolina is the most competitive rivalry ever. Since the ACC was created in 1953, the two schools have won the conference title 60% of the time, including 14 out of the 15 years from 1996 to 2011. The stakes are always high, as both teams are usually nationally-ranked when they play each other. Carolina (six championships, 20 Final Fours) and Duke (five championships, 16 Final Fours) are the third and fourth winningest programs in college basketball history, respectively. Over the past 40 years, UNC holds a 52-51 advantage over 103 games played. Perhaps most amazingly, the total points scored for each team over that span are:
DUKE - 7,988 points
UNC - 7,985 points
Who Wins: NORTH CAROLINA. More wins. More titles. More Final Four appearances. More conference championships. They’re all close, but advantage Tar Heels.
#1 - BAYLOR v. McCALLIE/GPS
The Cross River Rivalry has raged between the Ridgers of McCallie and the Baylor Red Raiders since 1908. The football rivalry was suspended in 1940 when McCallie elected to back out of it, but resumed again in the seventies and has been played every year since then. The rivalry has produced heroic moments and statement wins. The Baylor Lady Raiders took on a rivalry of their own against the GPS Bruisers (not the Wasps, unfortunately) when Baylor went co-ed in 1985. Since then, Baylor has continued its age-long dominance over both the Blue Tornado and the Bruisers, with the Cross River Rivalry consistently producing memorable moment after memorable moment.
Signature Moment: In 2015, McCallie tried to make a statement off the playing field. And they sure made a loud one, as their “Run This Town” music video got over 300,000 hits on YouTube. But come game time, McCallie got single-handedly dismantled by Ryan Parker and the Big Red, 38-14. As one Baylor player tweeted, “You made a video. We made a statement.” What was so satisfying about this game for Baylor fans is that Baylor made their mark on the field, not in some insufferable hype video off of it. And as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Heywood Stadium speakers blasted “Run This Town.”
Quote: “We’re gonna kick their a** with class!” – Baylor RB George Porter, 2013, hours after McCallie vandals spray-painted Heywood Stadium.
What Makes It Unique: It’s the one we all get to experience.
Who Wins: BAYLOR. Be honest, have you ever heard anyone refer to it as the “McCallie Baylor game”? No, you haven’t (because no one ever has said it). It’s Baylor first—we hold the lead everywhere. In the all time football series Baylor is up 44-38-3 (and that’s being generous enough to give McCallie the disputed games of 1905 and 1906). Last year, Baylor only lost to McCallie in football and lacrosse, but we swept them in both baseball and basketball. We’ve dominated them on the wrestling mat for 14 straight years. We beat them in the state finals for last year’s soccer title. In the 2017-18 school year alone, Baylor won as many state titles as GPS has won from 2010-2018. Baylor won team championships last year in baseball, softball (sorry not sorry GPS), soccer (twice!), volleyball, swimming, and girls’ tennis (for the eighth straight season). McCallie won zero team championships last year. Baylor has a history of champions that GPS and McCallie can’t compete with. I’ll leave you all with some numbers that settle any arguments about this rivalry once and for all.
Baylor - 210
McCallie - 103
GPS - 80
STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS - Men's Teams
Baylor - 135
McCallie - 103
STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS - Women's Teams Since Baylor Went Co-ed (1985)
Baylor - 84
GPS - 63