PORTLAND, Ore. — Rivalries between teams are one of the things that make sports great. Everything about the game is increased, from fan interest to player intensity.
Any sports fan will know about the big rivalries such as Boston-New York, Jets-Patriots and Chicago Cubs-White Sox. Another rivalry is taking center stage in the soccer world, as MLS becomes better and the league legitimizes itself on the world stage: Portland-Seattle.
With the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City, there was no sporting rivalry to be had in the two cities. The Mariners are the lone MLB team in Cascadia, as are the Seahawks in football, while the Trailblazers’ closest competition is in Sacramento, while neither city boasts an NHL team.
This lack of a rivalry in the big four leagues for Portland and Seattle meant soccer was able to take center stage, especially once the teams’ respective teams joined, the Timbers and the Sounders. Now the hallmark rivalry game in MLS, the rivalry goes beyond just soccer, says Timbers fan Mark Weidman. Portland looks down on Seattle due to their huge city status, while Seattle treats Portland like a “little brother.”
So what is a Portlander to do if they fancy baseball or football more than the Timbers? Do they disregard their loyalty to their city and root for the Seahawks, or do they pick a team to support from afar?
Weidman and his wife, Heather, both said they would never consider rooting for a Seattle team, regardless of which sport it was for. Weidman said there are some Seahawks fans, but people in Portland are often from elsewhere in the United States and continue to support their hometown teams. A native Long-Islander, Weidman grew up a Mets fan and said he and Heather now support the local minor league baseball teams, the Hillsboro Hops and the Portland Pickles.
The two would never consider following a team from Seattle, but more due to the fact Seattle is 150 miles from Portland, so disregarding the rivalry between the cities, the teams to the north don’t feel like “hometown” teams because of the distance.
But that’s another great thing about sports. In order to support a team, fans don’t need to live nearby. I myself am from Pennsylvania, but don’t follow the Steelers, Phillies, Penguins, Flyers or Pirates. I’m a Timbers fan myself, as well as a Boston Red Sox fan.
Regardless of the team you support, the city you’re from or your favorite players, the beauty of sports is they unite people from all over.