new header

September 17, 2011

Questing for a Rival

30 years from now, when Harry Potter finds that particularly comfy chair, grabs a pint of butterbeer and begins to pen his autobiography, who will be the first associate that he thanks for his success?

Hermione? The loyal friend who bailed Harry out on numerous occasions?
Albus "I got your back unless Snape's involved" Dumbledore?
Or maybe Professor McGonagall for fast-tracking Harry's path to stardom by making him the youngest house seeker in over 100 years?

Nope, I don't think so. The person who played the biggest role in making Harry into the world's most powerful and respected wizard, was of course Lord Voldemort. The rival. The enemy. Without Voldemort writing the syllabus for Harry's school years, The Boy Who Lived would've simply been the boy who played Quidditch (and frankly "Harry Potter and the Last Minute Comeback against Slytherin" isn't as catchy as some of the other titles we've come to adore).

The presence of a rival shaped Harry's entire life: Voldemort led Harry to the Chamber of Secrets, entered him into the Tri-Wizard Tournament, infiltrated his dreams, took over two of his Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, and killed his friends and parents of course ... But more importantly, Voldemort made Harry who he is. The Dark Lord stretched Harry, made him work harder, forced him to face greater trials, learn more challenging spells; he was the motivator behind the majority of Harry's progress. That's the forgotten benefit of having a rival.

It's the same story with this week's rivals, BYU and Utah. Both sides refer to the other as a measuring stick, but a pole vault would be a more illustrative comparison. Outperforming the enemy in any way possible is the only rule in the rivalry and it’s the most motivating factor on either side. BYU’s success in the 80’s led to Utah placing a clock in their weight room that counted down the hours and minutes until the annual BYU game. Thus the rival Cougars provided the fuel for Utah weightlifters year round. Likewise the Utes jump to the PAC-12 forced BYU to dump the lowly Mountain West for a shot at independence and (hopefully) something better. In a similar vein, the lack of a rival has held Utah State back for years.

Game on.

An enemy provides you with power, sometimes even directly giving it to you. In Voldemort’s case, his attack on Harry left the young wizard with the ability to speak Snake, as well as a mind-reading power that came in handy on more than one occasion. In the Blue and Red rivalry, it was BYU that provided Utah with half its coaching staff: Head Coach Whittingham, Aaron Roderick (receivers) and Kilani Sitake (defensive coordinator) all played their college ball in Provo. Of course, BYU defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi was a Utah graduate assistant himself. And then there’s Norm Chow -- played for Utah, coached BYU to Heisman and Championship levels, and now has returned to coach the U. His name may be Norm but his career path has been anything but.

Why bring this all up? Well, I love the rivalry for one and I love Harry Potter for two. So much in fact that I’ve merged both into an analogy that only Bill Simmons could enjoy (skip ahead one paragraph if you want to save on reading 141 nerd words).

Utah plays the role of Voldemort naturally, as they were the evil power that ruled the state for ages until a bevy of All-American quarterbacks arrived to BYU (comprising Harry Potter) and rid the world of evil for 13 or so years (from 1979 to 1992 BYU was 12-1 against their rival and outscored the Utes by 240 points). Once the string of Harry Potters ran dry, Albus Dumbledore/LaVell Edwards (the only one the Utes ever feared) kept the enemy at bay until he died/retired, paving the way for the Utes return to power. With the Utes now in possession of what was once Dumbledore’s greatest weapon (offensive coordinator Norm Chow), the only question is whether or not Harry Potter (the All-Americans) will ever return to BYU to finish the evil off for good. Sadly I've heard of no prophecies claiming such occurrences.

Alright, forget what you just read and let’s try this again. Why bring this all up? Because I want a rival. I need someone who hates me so much that I will be driven to outdo him in every which way. If I had a rival I wouldn’t waste time playing video games, watching ESPN, writing useless blogs … A rival would motivate, empower, give direction; I would know what I needed to do and how to go about doing it. It’s the only piece missing in my quest for glory.

So in ending let me remind you that you suck and are ugly and I hate you.

(And yes, don't worry, I'll be sure to mention you in the biography)


  1. Harry doesn't speak Snake; he speaks Parseltongue. Beyond that, I agree.

  2. Except for the whole BYU-being-good thing, of course. But let's not beat a dead horse.

  3. Amazing. Thank you for combining the two things I love most in this world.