Few things in sports are better than honest-to-goodness competition.
There’s a reason sports fans who don’t watch baseball appreciate the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees rivalry. Sports fans who don’t watch basketball have reason to resize you on the Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics rivalry. There’s a reason sports fans who don’t watch college sports wax poetic about rich college rivalries like Michigan-Ohio State or Duke-North Carolina.
That reason? While rivalries are fun and there is very real hatred in the world, sports “hate” can add intensity to any game.
Case in point: Tonight’s NFC divisional round game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles might not be a whole lot to write home about. On paper, at least, the Eagles are every bit as good and talented as their 14-3 regular season record suggests, and they host the Giants in Philadelphia to boot. The game would end in a 56-0 bludgeoning.
But the Giants and Eagles are bitter NFC East rivals, their disdain for each other perhaps only matched by their disdain for their fellow NFC East foe, the Dallas Cowboys. And with that rivalry comes increased scrutiny over even the most mundane events.
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Take, for example, what the Giants had the misfortune of finding in their hotel before tonight’s game.
According to ESPN beat reporter Jordan Ranan, there was no water in the hotel this morning.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) January 21, 2023
Ranan cited a notable Giants superfan who first brought up a “little problem” at the hotel.
– LPG – New (@LicensePlateGuy) January 21, 2023
Note that the word “broken” is in quotes, indicating that something more unpleasant is going on than just a plumbing problem. Thanks to the magic of rivalries, it didn’t take long for other Giants fans to immediately guess that shenanigans had taken place.
I’m no conspiracy theorist but there is a solution.
Garbage, cheating city tries to vandal https://t.co/vQ2KhtruIf
— Joe Setyon (@JoeSetyon) January 21, 2023
Giants team hotel in Center City without water.
Philly plumbers are getting the call to fix it: pic.twitter.com/iXbYseOFb6
— Pat Gallen (@PatGallenCBS3) January 21, 2023
Imagine scaring an opponent so much that you cut off their water supply. Giants are the big team here. https://t.co/AEFiYWFIM3
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) January 21, 2023
Fortunately for the Giants and their more tin foil-crowned fans, water was eventually restored to the hotel, giving the Giants plenty of time to shower and hydrate.
I repeat. The Giants should be able to shower pregame. Water is back on https://t.co/imDp4R2U2i
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) January 21, 2023
Again, this story illustrates the beauty of sports rivalries. Busted plumbers are not newsworthy in and of themselves. But given the teams involved, you have a real “moment” before the big game.
Speaking of which, I’d be remiss not to mention that the Giants, despite being underdogs, have a lot of positive momentum going into this game.
Not only do they have an elite offensive coach in Brian Daboll, but the team has won eight of its last 10 games. Overall no. Kevon Thibodeaux returns from injury after finishing 5th. Embattled quarterback Daniel Jones seems to have reinvented himself under Daboll’s charge, and superstar Saquon Barkley looks like his old self again. Giants fans have a lot to be positive about.
While New York looks to play spoiler on Saturday night, the afternoon game will have the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. Later on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills, while the San Francisco 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys to conclude the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
This article was originally published in The Western Journal.