1NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) - The rival camps have been infiltrating each
other for centuries. New Yorkers head to Boston for an education. Bostonians
follow their career paths right onto Wall Street.
In the struggle for supremacy, curses are exchanged, aspersions cast. These
two great American cities cannot avoid one another, and they are on a
collision course once again in the Super Bowl.
Sunday's big game between the New York Giants (who really play in New Jersey
) and the New England Patriots (home town: Foxborough, Massachusetts) is
stirring passions across trading floors, bars and chatrooms throughout the U
.S. Northeast, a proxy for greater battles over commerce, academia, cultural
achievement and clam chowder.
"Half this firm has roots in Boston, the CEO is a Bostonian," said Peter
Kenny, managing director of the Knight Capital brokerage in Jersey City, New
Jersey, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
"I don't think there is another team that is represented on a fan basis at
Knight other than these two teams, so that is really an intense conversation
. It almost lacks humor, yet at the end of the day it's a good thing, it is
very much about camaraderie," Kenny said.
New York surpassed Boston in population, cultural significance and financial
strength about 250 years ago, and the rivalry has been lopsided ever since.
Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles have taken turns as the challenger,
but New York has reigned supreme.
"If the subject is sports, New York hustles to stay up with Boston. If the
subject is economic, population, media and all that other stuff, it's not
really a competition," said Kenneth T. Jackson, a history professor at New
York's Columbia University.
"But I don't want to say anything against Boston," Jackson said. "If all of
America was like Boston, sophisticated, cultural, we'd be a better country."
Blue-blooded Bostonians have seen New Yorkers as somewhat vulgar: cut-throat
in business and eager to raid smaller cities of their treasures. Many
lamented the loss of William Dean Howells, "the Dean of American Letters,"
who moved from Boston to New York in 1886.
New Yorkers may go to Harvard or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
for a first-rate education, but they'll return to seek fortunes on Wall
Street, and they'll take the Metropolitan Opera over the Boston Pops.
William M. Fowler Jr., a history professor at Northeastern University in
Boston, said tension dates to the 1600s, pitting the Pilgrims and the
Puritans of Massachusetts against the Dutch in New York.
They called each other names, one of which evolved into the word "Yankee,"
which was "not exactly a term of endearment," he said.
"We always have land problems," Fowler said. "Massachusetts thought its
boundaries went all the way to the Hudson River, and so the constant
squabbles over that with the Yorkers, we called them Yorkers, they called us
The rivalry continued through the 19th Century, over railroad lines,
maritime trade and access to the west, he said.
"It's going to go on forever, I think," he said.
In sports, New York has generally led with the ironically named baseball
team the Yankees, taking 27 World Series championships while their arch-
rival Boston Red Sox suffered a notorious 86-year drought. But Boston has
become the undisputed leader in the past decade.
Red Sox championships in 2004 and 2007 helped erase the heartbreak over Babe
Ruth, sold from the Red Sox to the Yankees in 1919 for $125,000, and lesser
tormentors such as Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone. The Patriots have won three
Super Bowls since 2002 and Boston's NBA Celtics (2008) and NHL Bruins (2011)
have also won titles this past decade.
Still, New England tempers run high toward the Giants, the team that ruined
what was about to become a historic, undefeated season for the Patriots
before they gave up a game-winning touchdown in the closing minute of the
2008 Super Bowl.
"That we are playing the Giants, the team that destroyed the perfect season,
that further spices it up," said Robert Reynolds, chief executive of Putnam
Investments in Boston and once a finalist for the NFL Commissioner's job in
Author Charles Fountain, who has lived in both cities, said Boston's
historic frustrations are played out on the sports fields.
"Had the Patriots lost it to (another team in 2008), it would be a
melancholy moment and a lost opportunity," Fountain said. "But it wouldn't,
I don't think, hurt so much."
(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, Zach Howard and Ross Kerber;
Editing by Julian Linden)