People use the term “rivalry” very loosely in sports, and I think that it needs to be revisited.
For example, the Yankees-Mets do not have a “rivalry”, as they play each other 4 times a year (out of 162)…they have zero impact on each others playoff chances, and besides for the 2000 World Series, they haven’t had much to do with each other.
As a New Yorker, why should you care if both teams win the other 158 games a year, and in those four games you pick a team to root for. But to “hate” the other team is just plain stupid.
On the flip side you have the Rangers-Flyers in the NHL. Two teams that play each other multiple times a year, and each game plays a role in the playoff scenarios.
The players hate each other. The coaches hate each other. The fans hate each other
Even more relevant to my last example is the Rangers-Islanders. Since 1994 the two teams have been playing two different styles of game. They had their differences and hates, but big picture it didn’t really matter…until this year that is, as they fight it out for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, and when they meet in the 2nd round of the playoffs (as they should) there will be genuine hatred between everyone with their hearts in these teams.
Other big rivalries that truly exists these days, and are still relevant: Yankees-Red Sox; Lakers-Celtics; Tom Brady-Peyton Manning.
Rivalries that don’t exist, but the fans like to think they do: Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin; Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson (Tiger is irrelevant in recent years and Phil is a choker); Kobe-Lebron.
One rivalry that didn’t really exist, but should pick up (rightfully so) in the next few months: Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather.
And that should be one heck of a fight.