The Rivalry Course, formally titled ‘Rivalry & Ritual in International Sports,’ was developed in 2013 and first offered to undergraduates at Northern Kentucky University in the fall of 2014. The course uses the socially prominent context of sports across the globe to examine cultural development, identity, influence and conflict within and across persons and geographic boundaries.
Why is sports rivalry a university course?
The social dynamics of intergroup relations are foundational to many disciplines, including political science, anthropology, sociology, business, and history. Why is our society so politically polarized? Why does discrimination persist despite historical and contemporary mitigation efforts? Why are consumers in certain product categories so brand loyal? Why are certain sports competitions so intense?
By studying the social psychology of rivalry, we can better understand and address these questions with actionable insights aimed at facilitating outcomes for the common good. Sports as a context provides an engaging international platform to learn about intergroup dynamics and their influence on consumers’ identity and associated purchase behaviors, biases, and social relationships.
In the Rivalry Course, we take a virtual journey around the world to study how famous—and sometimes infamous—rivalries initiated in various regions and across diverse sports, such as…
To conclude the course, students engage in a rivalries comparison project that challenges them to compare two rivalries from different global regions in a short video production. Here is a playlist of some of their products: YouTube playlist
In 2016, NKU Magazine named the course as “Coolest Class,” featuring it in their fall edition. In 2018, the course was certified within the university’s Foundation of Knowledge, which acts as the General Education platform for Northern Kentucky University. The popularity of the class is evident by the high demand—multiple section offerings frequently fill within 24-hours of registration availability—but the students’ comments provide the best illustrations of course experiences:
If you are a student at NKU and you are quick to register when courses become available, you have the best opportunity to experience full emersion in the Rivalry Course. However, you can still experience components of the course through guest discussions that Drs. Cobbs and Tyler frequently deliver to universities and other organizations. A sampling of their visits includes:
On-site or virtually, our co-founders lead discussion of the foundations of the Rivalry Course and their applications to context relevant to the host audiences. Please visit our Let’s Talk section to make an inquiry of this possibility for your organization.