Liking rival teams can be a healthy way to enjoy sports

Being a fan of two rival teams isn’t easy, but it can be fun

Every sports fan has a favourite team. Some even have two or more for the same sport, which helps them follow different conferences or divisions. But how often does it happen that someone likes two rival teams? It’s rare, but not impossible.

Rivalries are one of the most fun parts of sports. It can even get to a point where you’re rooting for a team’s failure and not another team’s success.

If you’re as big of a hockey fan as anyone in Montreal, there is no way that you don’t absolutely despise the Boston Bruins or the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Or maybe there is.

Pia Yared, who has been living in Montreal since 2015, became a Canadiens fan the second she started living in Montreal. That was until last year, when she watched her first Leafs game and it was love at first sight.

“I just loved their energy, and how they played,” she said. “All it took was one game and I became a Leafs fan.”

She said she is now 55 per cent a Leafs fan and 45 per cent a Habs fan, but that it can fluctuate during the year.

Mitch Levis, a Montrealer and Baseball Québec umpire, also mentioned these numbers, but for the MLB.

He is 55 per cent a Cincinnati Reds fan and 45 per cent a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

Before that, Levis was a huge Expos fan, but he stopped following MLB altogether after the Expos moved to Washington, D.C., and became the Nationals.

However, he got back into it in 2010 when he travelled to Cincinnati and went to a Reds game there, with the Cardinals visiting.

“On the Cards’ roster was Rafael Furcal, a player I had met as a child when he played for Atlanta. But on the Reds was all-star Canadian player Joey Votto,” Levis said, explaining what helped him get back into watching MLB and following these two teams.

Although he doesn’t watch baseball during the regular season due to his busy schedule, Levis watches some games during the preseason and the playoffs. He also follows both teams in the news and on social media to keep up with everything.

He said if he were to watch his two favourite teams against each other, he would probably root for the Reds.

“But I’d also lean more neutral and hope for an exciting pitching matchup,” he said.

Yared also said she doesn’t watch a lot of games during the regular season, but tries to keep up with the news as much as possible.

She mentioned she usually roots for the Leafs over the Canadiens when they face off, but hopes for a fun game, even if it’s not the outcome she expects.

“I try to go into it neutral and see how the game goes,” she said. “And if a team is too disappointing, I’ll cheer for the other one.”

This is exactly what happened in the 2021 playoffs. She went into it rooting for Toronto, but ended up cheering for Montreal the closer they got to winning the series.

At the end of the day, sports are meant to be fun and to bring people together. Everyone has unique sports experiences. You can like one team and be loyal to them until death. You can like a team, then decide you don’t like them anymore, and pick a new one. You can also not have a favourite team, but instead just enjoy a sport.

Or, you can have two favourite teams that have a great rivalry, and enjoy every second of chaos you’ll witness.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt

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