The Sibling Rivalry We’re Waiting For


However crudely executed, the chalk art reminded me of a game I attended at the beginning of the calendar year, pitting the UCSD men’s basketball team against SDSU. Over halfway through the game, with a healthy lead in hand, the Aztec fans started a “younger brother” chant. 

Was the chant derogatory? Sure, even if SDSU’s Chase Tapley looks like he could be UCSD point guard James McCann’s senior by 10 plus years. But was it a case of bullying, or from a place of spite? I don’t think so. The city of San Diego needs a hometown rivalry, and UCSD is the heir apparent to challenge SDSU. 

The two are both state-funded institutions in San Diego, with enrollment numbers comparable to each other.

The only problem is UCSD’s youth, or rather SDSU’s antiquity. SDSU, established in 1897, is nearly twice as old as UCSD. The Aztecs have been competing in the NCAA since 1926, with a football program already in place. SDSU moved to the California Collegiate Athletics Association — the conference UCSD currently competes in — in 1939. It wasn’t until 1969 that SDSU moved into Division I competition. 

SDSU’s athletic department’s cycle to maturity is not uncommon, but UCSD’s race to maturation may be. Note, it took SDSU 29 years to move into NCAA competition, and another 30 years to make the jump from Division II to Division I. Allowing for improvements in NCAA infrastructure enabling more easily attainable upward mobility, UCSD seems to be on a comparable track. Beginning competition in the late 1960s, it was an independent in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics before moving to Division III in the late 1970s. In 2000, UCSD moved to Division II competition and in 2011 UCSD pitched a move to the Big West, when we were ousted by the University of Hawaii. And in 2012, UCSD voted down the Division I referendum.

If our “older brothers” are going to teach us anything — and it won’t be organic chemistry — maybe it’s patience. It might be a good 25 years before UCSD moves to Division I, but in the meantime, let’s get the support of the student body, let’s build up our base. SDSU’s just an older sibling impatient to play a competitive game of H.O.R.S.E. with his kid brother. And they’re not the only ones. I’d like to make the trip to Viejas Arena and see a close match between same-city universities (or something a little closer than SDSU’s 80–56 exhibition blowout to kickoff UCSD’s basketball season).