Losing more than a game

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Every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember, I’ve watched the Texas-Texas A&M game while I let my casserole-filled stomach digest my dinner. This event is preceded by watching the Dallas Cowboys play. Even when I did not have any history or affiliation with either school, watching both games was as much a part of Thanksgiving in my mind as seeing my family.

I’m sad to see the tradition of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry come to a close. Even though Texas will go down in history as the ultimate victor in the 118-year-long contest based on the overall record and score of the last game, students across the state ultimately lose with the end of this rivalry.

Sure, we love hating on Aggies — they’re an easy butt of any joke. I’m sure both sides will miss the traditions, such as the Hex Rally and the bonfire, associated with preparation for the game. Plus, our fight song makes a whole lot less sense now that we won’t play them.

But the rivalry between our two schools is a lot more than mere sport. The showdown linking our universities represents a historical tradition that is embedded within the Texan culture. Go to any Walmart or major store outside of the near vicinity of Austin or College Station and you will see T-shirts from each school side by side. Talk to any student attending a public elementary or middle school in Texas and listen as they exclaim which color they bleed.

Students may be raised biased toward one university over the other, but unlike in many other states, students have the luxury of choosing between two world-class public universities that are both academic and athletic powerhouses.

One might argue that it’s just a football game and just because the game’s ending, the relationship won’t change. But whenever we talk about peer institutions, my first thought always goes to the school 100 miles down the road. Sure, A&M is not a part of our official peer-institution group, but I’m much more interested in what goes on at there than what the schools way out in California, such as UCLA and Berkeley, are up to. Aggies just seem to understand us better.

For instance, prior to orientation, incoming freshmen at Texas A&M attend Fish Camp while their Texas counterparts go to Camp Texas. This is only one of a number of complementary traditions. So much of who we are as UT students derives from acknowledging how we are not like those Aggies: We don’t say “Gig ‘Em,” we’re not obsessed with the Corps, we didn’t originate as a rural school for farmers’ kids.

Since the universities are not considered peer institutions, football is the tether that maintains the competition between the schools, and it gives it a special showcase to play out. When we end the athletic contests between the two schools, we undermine the history, culture and rivalry between them. We lose more than a game; we lose a source of competition that breeds accountability, pride and identity.

Taylor is a Plan II and rhetoric and writing senior.