Sunday, February 03, 2013

My take on the Harbaugh Bowl

Today is the day.  Super Bowl Sunday pits two brothers, John and Jim Harbaugh, against each other as opposing head coaches.  There's not much left to say that hasn't already been said about this match up, so I'd like to simply take this opportunity to shed some light on my experience of battling against my brother in the athletic arena.  We each played volleyball for our respective high schools back in Texas, and the following is a column I wrote for my school's newspaper, Evergreen, in the fall of 2002 during my senior year.


No Joshing: St. Mark's school rivalry increases sibling rivalry by Josh Feldman, Executive Editor
As a student at Greenhill, I'm fully aware of the school's long-lasting rivalry with St. Mark's. I am also a big brother, bringing another aspect of competition into my life: sibling rivalries.  
However, unlike most students, my rivalry with my brother, Matt, is more than your average sibling rivalry. He is a sophomore at St. Mark's, adding to the contrasts between the two of us. We constantly argue over which school is the best (obviously Greenhill), and every time we do, our mom is there to put an end to the feud. However it is now that we each get to formally fight for our schools through volleyball.  
Each of us has played volleyball since age 12, and even though I am two years older than Matt, we both play at the varsity level at our respective schools. After playing four years of club volleyball, he has solidified his spot in the St. Marks' starting line up. He worked to be where he is, but so have I. 
The first time I faced him on the court was last year in a match at a St. Marks-hosted tournament where he started on the St. Marks' JV team. On the first play of the game, I hit a ball at him, nailing him in the chest to set the tone of the game. He fought the game of his life, knowing that it was his older brother on the other side of the net.  
This year, we already played against each other at a match at St. Mark's and I know I was the most intense I had been for a match in a long time.  
Neither of us went into the match thinking that it would be just another team: there was family across the net. The focus of our games will not be on the scoreboard, rather on keeping my brother in check; knowing that even if the score shows the game to be a blow out, when we get home, we will recount the small battles we had during the game.  
Whether that will be a block I had on him or an ace he served at me, I do not know. The rivalry goes beyond the sidelines of the volleyball court, into who will have the most to brag about at the dinner table.  
Rivalries are never easy because you are constantly at war with someone. When that person is your brother -- who goes to your school's biggest rival -- it's even more difficult, trust me.  
As we are still in volleyball season, I look forward to future matches against Matt. I am ready to take the court to face not just an opposing school, but the person whose bedroom is down the hall from mine.  
While I know that all my mom wants is a good, clean match, I want Matt to know that for the time being, his place remains in my shadow.  
Remember, however, that I am the older brother, and no matter what, I cannot win in this situation. If I am seen as better, "so what?" I am a whole two years older, and therefore my victory is easily accepted (and justified).  
If he is better, then I just got out-played by my younger brother. Either way, I do not want to hear of his triumphs over me at the dinner table. 
The Harbaugh brothers face each other in the Super Bowl -- it's one of the most intriguing story lines in the history of sports.  And while I'd like to see the 49ers win today simply because with rare exception, I root for the NFC, it will be very difficult to know I'm pulling for younger brother Jim.  At the end of the day, if John and his Ravens hoist the Lombardi Trophy, I know I'll get to call Matthew and let him know it's just another victory for older brothers everywhere.

No clue how I found this online, but here's a clip of Matthew at St. Mark's coming up with a block then putting the ball away with a nice transition kill.

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