What if My Best Friend Goes to a Rival School?

Flickr user Max Goldberg

Flickr user Max Goldberg

Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Or does it? What if your best friend goes to your rival school? You must be sworn enemies. Or maybe not. While you are probably used to sporting the same colors and participating or cheer for the same team you shared in high school, things have changed. They now sport that unmentionable color combo and holler that obscene chant. What are you to do? Have fun with it, of course! After all, competition can be a blast. But no one likes the person who takes it too far…

In fact, almost all of my best friends went to my school’s rival institution. This led to countless bouts of smack talk, teasing, and game day taunting–though all in the name of good-natured fun. We weren’t about to let a little bit of rivalry split us up.

Here are a few ways having your best friend as your rival might be awesome:

Game Day will be better!

Part of what makes a rivalry is the competition among the schools. This can be in a variety of activities, but we’ll focus on sports. You’re headed off to college this fall and will have to deal with being separated from your best friend. The perfect reunion will be when your two schools meet up for a rivalry football game. You will experience the tradition of a true rivalry. The campus will be abuzz all during that week. People will discuss the game, ask you your plans, and cheer loudly at the pep rally. There may even be free food and giveaways during the week! Instead of feeling like you don’t have any plans for the big day, you get to see your best friend! How awesome is that? The friendly teasing makes the spirit of the game that much more fun. Win or lose, you’ll still have your best friend by your side.

I remember whenever the big rivalry game came up, my friends always traveled up to see me (or I traveled to see them, depending on where the game was). We turned it into a huge event–cookouts, baking lots of desert, eating copious amounts of junk food, and of course watching the big game and cheering at the tops of our lungs. It was a blast.

Tolerance, Anyone?

While most people make rivalries fun, there are those who take it too far. Having someone you care deeply about on the other side puts things in perspective. It’s just a game, after all–it’s not worth losing a friendship. If you’re the type to yell at the TV screen or players on the field till you’re red in the face, having a friend sporting the other colors might keep you in check. You wouldn’t shout at and badmouth a dear friend, now would you? Playful smack talk is one thing, but friends will keep you from crossing the line.

When I was in my college’s marching band, I had a rival friend come visit our section to say hi. I hadn’t seen her in a long time and it was great to catch up with her between fight songs and big plays. However, she was spotted by our school’s mascot. He covered his face and carried on as if I had somehow betrayed our team, then put up his fists in a pretend brawl with my friend. At the end of the charade, he just patted my friend on the head and she gave him a hug. Everyone in my school’s student section went: awww.

Keep that connection strong

The biggest downside of having your best friend(s) at a different school is that you don’t get to see them nearly as often. Back in high school, you saw each other every day, and it was easy to keep that friendship alive. But in college, you’ll be busy with class, homework, projects, and a part-time job, not to mention various campus activities. Communication with your distant friends might be few and far between. That’s where the rivalry benefits you–it gives you something to talk about. If the Big Rivalry Game is coming up, you can reach out to your friends and either engage in banter or make plans to see each other. No matter what you do, it will keep your friendship alive and kicking.

Sometimes the only interaction I’d have with my rival friends for weeks was texting them about our victory in a sporting competition over them, or even congratulating their team for winning (against a different school, of course). We were not sports people by any means, but it was a nice way to keep in touch, and other conversations would spark from there.


The point is: having your best friend as a rival isn’t the end of the world. There are actually many perks to being on opposite sides. Just remember to keep things fun and lighthearted, and maintain that awesome friendship.

Co-written with the help of Kali Slaymaker.

Related Articles

One thought on “What if My Best Friend Goes to a Rival School?”

  1. Avatar Steve Begin says:

    Great read due to wonderful points! This has been so hard to explain to folks who see all rivalry as negative, and your article does a great job of articulating the blessings and fun proper rivalries encompass. I’m looking forward to my college-football team Michigan take on Michigan State this weekend, and then even more a little later on: Michigan vs. … well that “state below Michigan” 😉 … Thanks again for a well-written article. ‘Definitely going to share with my wife and many others =)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *