Anaika Miller: Rival me this


Anaika Miller

UCLA's Bruin statue "goes into hibernation" beneath this black box to avoid potential USC pranks during Rivalry Week. UCLA students often camp out overnight to provide extra protection for the statue. Credit: Anaika Miller.Here at UCLA, it’s impossible to go a day without hearing a few derogatory remarks about the “school across town.” A search for #beatusc on Instagram will yield thousands of anti-Trojan photos, and there is a seemingly endless amount of UCLA vs. USC memes online.

This week though, it’s especially bad. Today, a number of students on Bruin Walk attempted to shove flyers advertising the “Beat USC Bonfire Rally” into my hand while others tried to convince me to buy an anti-USC T-shirt.

Apparently, this week is Rivalry Week.

Though it may help drum up interest in the UCLA vs. USC football game this Saturday, I still don’t feel like I entirely understand the concept. Curious to find some answers, I decided to look up some of the history between UCLA and USC, and boy, is there some bad blood.

There was that one time that USC stole our 295-pound Victory Bell, or the incident where we dropped manure from a helicopter onto their Tommy the Trojan statue. There’s also the time when they covered our Bruin statue in gold and crimson paint, to which we retaliated by covering Tommy in blue paint. Most recently, USC fans spray painted a UCLA plaque so that it now reads “USC.” {sidebar id=65}

I’m pretty competitive, so I understand the benefits of friendly competition, but these pranks just seem to waste a lot of money (restoring the Bruin statue cost UCLA about $20,000). And, go Bruins and everything, but this is clearly not a neck-and-neck competition. If Wikipedia can be trusted on this, USC has won 46 of the rivalry games (compare to UCLA’s 28 wins).

So, why do schools spend so much time and money on athletic rivalries? Yes, they’re an easy way to unite a student body, but that’s only because it’s easy to pit people against each other. Since the beginning of time, alleged differences have been used to divide groups of people. Exploiting that and calling it school spirit seems weird.

Plus, we’re quick to forget that we do share a few similarities with USC, mainly our common location in Los Angeles and that we’re both tied with University of Virginia as the 24th best university in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report.

I’m not saying the rivalry shouldn’t exist, I just don’t see the benefit of it if it is limited to pranks and t-shirt sales. Channeling our school spirit into something like last Sunday’s We Run the City 5K (which raised money for Special Olympics athletes in Southern California), is a much better way to unite us all. At an event like this, we can compete against each other and still join forces to reach a common goal.

Not to mention, UCLA is apparently a lot better at winning 5Ks than football games.

What do you think?