The rivalry between the states of Texas and Oklahoma is no secret, and it extends far beyond the realm of sports. While football certainly plays a role, the animosity has a long-standing history rooted in politics and historical events that have fueled the disdain between the two states.
The Political Upsets and Feuds
The roots of the feud can be traced back to the early 1900s, and one of the initial triggers occurred in 1908. The governor of Oklahoma overlooked Texan Judge M.M. Brooks for a spot on the Democratic National Convention platform committee, enraging many Texans who were following the political landscape at the time. The tension escalated further when the governor attended the Texas State Fair and was met with 12,000 impassioned Texans.
Bill Murray, an influential figure involved in the creation of Jim Crow laws, faced repeated failures in politics. After an absence from Oklahoma, Murray re-entered the political scene and became the governor, but his forceful and aggressive policies extended beyond his state, sparking disputes with Texas. A notable event was the conflict over a bridge, which led to an altercation involving the Texas Rangers and the destruction of Oklahoma’s side of the bridge by Governor Murray.
The Role of Football in Fueling the Rivalry
While the feud has deep political origins, the impact of sporting events, particularly football, has further intensified the animosity. The University of Oklahoma’s resounding victory over the Texas Longhorns in 1908, with a score of 50-0, laid the foundation for what would later become the Red River Rivalry. Governor Murray even utilized football as a tool for his aggressive policies, involving the National Guard in enforcing ticket prices for games.
Over time, the rivalry evolved into a tradition deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric of both states, drawing significant crowds year after year. Despite the historical and political roots of the animosity, in modern times, the mutual dislike has subsided into a lighthearted annoyance. The border states of America often engage in friendly rivalries, and Texas and Oklahoma exemplify this phenomenon.
It’s clear that the animosity between Texans and Oklahomans is multifaceted, deeply intertwined with political history and perpetuated through significant sporting events. While the intensity has lessened over time, the rivalry continues to be a defining aspect of the relationship between these neighboring states.