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Ask 5: The Minnesota/Wisconsin sports rivalry at UWL

Melissa Petroff, Sports Reporter

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The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has a very unique location, as it sits almost on the Mississippi River, which separates the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Consequently, unlike most other schools in the University of Wisconsin system, a lot of students hail from across the river. While most students are proud Midwesterners, both states are proud of their own sports teams—the rivalry of sports teams between the two states is very prevalent on campus.

“Being on the border, UWL is great because I know I’m not the only die-hard Minnesota sports fan on campus,” UWL student Jack Purvis said. “It’s a little different at other UW schools across the state, especially as you move further away from the good side (Minnesota). I’ve been a huge Vikings fan my whole life. I knew coming to this school I’d see more Packer fans than I ever have before.”

Student Tanner Langen agreed with this point, “It’s a unique characteristic about the rivalry that not many people notice. After a Vikings versus Packers showdown, you know that half the campus will be happy, and the other half will be in hiding for a few days following the game.”

The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers rivalry is one of the more talked about ones, considering how close the fan bases are geographically, as well as how close the teams are in terms of league alignment and game scheduling.

“The rivalries between Minnesota and Wisconsin are more serious when it’s the Packers versus Vikings, but not as much for baseball and basketball because they don’t play many games against each other and few in the playoffs,” UWL student Trent Beninghaus said.

With both the Vikings and Packers in the same division in football—the National Football Conference North—the rivalry becomes intense. When the teams play each other, they’re playing for more than just a win, they’re battling for the top spot in the conference. In the two other major sports of baseball and basketball, the Minnesota and Wisconsin teams are in different leagues/conferences entirely.

“There is less at stake for basketball and baseball,” Langen said.

“The Twins and Brewers play in opposite leagues, as do the Timberwolves and Bucks so I wouldn’t classify either as a rivalry,” added Purvis.

With these sports rivalries comes the friendly and sometimes not-so-friendly arguments within friend groups on campus.

“Between my friend group, the rivalries are very serious.  My friends are very mixed between Minnesota and Wisconsin sports teams and every time one or the other is on point, there is some kind of argument on who is better,” UWL student Carmen Ormston said.

“It’s more of a social event when rivalries are playing,” Beninghaus stated. “It’s definitely something I look forward to during the week.”

“My friends and I have a Fantasy Football league, and we’re also pretty split between Packers and Vikings fans,” UWL student Nora Digre said. “You could say, there’s some trash talk when we get together to watch a game.”

Regardless of how each of these states is doing in their respective sports, Minnesota and Wisconsin fans stand behind their teams, and at all levels.

“My favorite Minnesota/Wisconsin rivalry is actually the Gophers and Badgers,” Langen explained. “It always seems to be a competitive game no matter the sport. These teams are rapidly changing players every few years, so even if your team is in a slump, there is always hope for the coming years.”

However, the most talked about rivalry on campus seems to be the two teams that are in the middle of their seasons right now.

“The rivalry between the Packers and Vikings is definitely the largest between students on campus,” Ormston stated. “I think this may be slightly biased because professional football is more popular than people watching college football, and football, in general, is typically a more followed sport than others for college students.”

“The Packers and Vikings is the best rivalry because of the hype surrounding the game,” Purvis commented. “It’s becoming one of the biggest rivalries in the [National Football League] and we take it seriously here in La Crosse. Win, lose, or tie, it’s always fun getting together with friends to watch a rivalry between our favorite teams.”

Langen also enjoys this border battle, stating, “You could say it’s extreme but also a good old friendly rivalry. Picture this: Two games a year. Bragging rights if you win. Food, friends and some beverages. Your friend is constantly talking about how good Aaron Rodgers is, but you keep reminding him how the guy can’t even go into a bar without breaking a collarbone and that it’s likely going to happen again today. Now your friend is mad and upset and insists it was a cheap shot.

“For some odd reason, he thinks that telling me how many championships they have won will improve their odds of winning today. Just when you think all hell is about to break loose, you sit back, cheer your friend and everything is alright. Man, that’s a winning combo for everyone.”

Almost 10,000 students call UWL home. While people have come from near and far to La Crosse, being around other students who share the same love and passion for their home-state team connects many groups of people. Oddly enough, the rivalries between these two states bring many students together as well.

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About the Contributor
Melissa Petroff, Sports Reporter


Year: Junior
Hometown: Waukesha, WI
Major: Sport Management
Minor: Business Administration
Other Campus Involvement: I am the Sponsorship...

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