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Rivalries and the Fan Rating Equation

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Hopefully I can come back after this weekend and write something about the Purdue season ending in a bowl. I really don't want to write a suicidal piece about how Indiana won their first FBS game this year by defending the Bucket.

With the Old Oaken Bucket Game coming up in a few days, I thought it would be a good time to write about rivalries in college sports and debut my Fan Rating equation to determine a person's level of fandom. I developed the Fan Rating after seeing some fans displaying what I consider despicable behavior.

In 2002, I was a student at Purdue. Our basketball team had an off year, and Indiana beat Duke and made it to the championship game against Maryland. During this run there were a lot of students that seemed to be happy for IU's success. Watching that hurt me almost as badly as watching IU win. Not only were our arch enemies having success, there were actual Boilermakers who were happy for them.

The argument went something like this: "Well, if we're not going to have a good year, why can't they? We're from Indiana, and I have friends that go there, so I'm happy for them." This is not what being a college sports fan is about. A very large part of being a fan is hating your rivals.

In order to help you figure out the degree of your college sports fandom, I have developed a simple equation:

FR = Y + R

FR stands for Fan Rating (max of 20, the higher the better)

Y stands for Your team, which is how much you love your team on a scale of 1 to 10. If you are doing an FR of a team you don't like, Y could be negative.

R stands for Rival, which is how much you hate your rival on a scale of 1 to 10. If for some reason you actually like your rivals, then this number can be negative. The Purdue students in 2002 that were openly rooting for IU would get a -5. In the case of a team that has more than one hated rival, this is an average of the hate for all of the rivals. So a Michigan fan would need to average their hatred of Ohio State and Michigan State (and Notre Dame?). 

Just like some of the best of the new baseball statistics, the concept of this is simple. If you live and die with your team, but are indifferent towards your rivals, then you will not have a high Fan Rating. If you hate your rivals as well as love your team, then you will have a high FR. I will leave it up to the various fan bases to determine who their main rivals are that should be figured into the equation.

I would say that Purdue's rivals in this would be Indiana and Notre Dame. Even though Purdue has had some good basketball games the last few years against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State, none of those teams is a hated rival for these purposes. Two big Boilermaker fans could have differing opinions on those teams, but not about IU. So a diehard Purdue fan that hates the Hoosiers with a fiery passion, but doesn't care about the Irish one way or the other would end up with an FR of about 14.

I would put my Purdue FR at 18, with a 9 for both the Y and R components. The 10 ratings would be reserved for those that get even more depressed than I do after a Purdue loss or IU win. I guess you could also figure this equation for teams that you aren't a fan of as well. Using Purdue and Kentucky as the rivals for the Indiana equation, I would calculate my IU FR as -11 (-11 = -9 + -2 (PU=-9, UK=5). My dislike of Kentucky is the only thing that keep this ranking from being even lower. I guess the rival teams could be weighted by how much of a rival they are as well. In Indiana's case, I would think that Purdue should factor into this equation more than Kentucky, especially since they don't play football against each other anymore.

I would be interested in seeing what your FR is, and what teams should be included in the R component for each Big Ten school.