Student Voice


May 23, 2024



Traditions bring interest, fun to game

October 19, 2006

Border battles. Head-to-head competitions. Intense screaming fans painted from head to toe in their team’s favorite colors. Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Those four things are the beginning of something huge, at least to a sports lover like me.


Merriam and Webster define traditions as: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior.

In all sports, traditions will play a huge role in team and fan morale. Traditions help pave the way for how a season is going to be played out.

In Minnesota and Wisconsin, border battles are a huge part of Division I collegiate sports. One of the first major clashes of the school year took place last weekend in Madison and the rivalry was as hot as ever.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers traveled to Madison to take on Bucky and his team of Badgers. Besides the traditional border battle, these two teams played for the traditional traveling trophy.

Every season, these two teams play to bring home Paul Bunyan’s Axe until the next season’s match-up takes place, along with bragging rights to claim your team is the best Big Ten team in the two states.

This season the two teams faced off for the title for the 58th time. The Badgers have taken home the axe in 10 out of the last 12 attempts. The rivalry between the two teams is known as one of the best in the entire country. Following the game, the team who wins will be given the trophy to display at their home stadium.

This season, the generally top-notch, Bowl-worthy Gophers have been looking flat, so when they traveled to Madison, it was sure to be a tough game.

The Badgers, ranked one of the top teams in the country, were expected to beat the maroon and gold down at Camp Randall.

That they did.

Wisconsin made Minnesota sorry that they traveled all the way to Madison. The Badgers walked all over the Gophers with a 48-12 score, sending the visiting team home ashamed.
Paul Bunyan’s Axe is snug in its home in Madison for another year.

Here in River Falls, unfortunately, I don’t see as many traditions. I don’t see as many fans caring about them. Maybe I’m wrong and they do exist, but in almost two and a half years here, I haven’t seen any.

Even in high school we had traditions. We had big rivals and heated battles. During each year of my high school career, my school’s hockey team played a neighboring city at least twice a season with the potential of meeting once again in the playoffs. Students would go all out to cheer for their team, painting their faces, losing their voices and sometimes getting a little mean.

Traditionally, fights would break out and mean things would be said. We would each get lectured and told to behave better next time. But in high school would you ever listen?

Not very likely.

I was always one of the good fans who just went to cheer for the rivalry and have a good time, and it was scary to see people take a hockey game too far.

One of the most heated battles I see each year here at River Falls, is the men’s hockey team against UW-Superior. It seems like both teams always play each other at crucial points in the season, usually when both teams are vying for a conference title.

The two teams play their best in an attempt to get better placement in WIAC and have a better chance at getting a top spot in the playoffs.

As much as I enjoy sports traditions, they’re also easy to get sick of. People don’t know when to quit.

It’s just so easy to get wrapped up in the sport that you just keep going. So as good as traditions can be, it’s necessary to make sure they aren’t overwhelming.

I love to cheer, watch my favorite teams and have fun. I love watching Paul Bunyan’s Axe being presented to the winning team and the celebrations unfold.
Traditions help make sports what they are.

But most importantly, they need to be carried out with as much class as possible.

Sarah Packingham is a former member of the Student Voice staff.