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The great Archie Griffin was running wild for Ohio State when I was a graduate student there in the 1970s.

I knew football. How could I not, growing up in the “Friday Night Lights” environment of Steubenville, Ohio, a small steel town where high school football was, and is, king.

I have seen my share of Ohio State-Michigan games and I’ve witnessed a few Colorado-Nebraska games in my 35 years at CU. I never tire of the electric atmosphere and colorful pageantry of game day and I enjoy a great football rivalry as much as anyone.

Game day is also the opportunity to show off everything we love about Boulder and to take pride in who we are as members of the CU community.

Yes, we take pride in our athletics — after all, we have 23 national championships to our credit. But we are just as committed to civic engagement; it is a core value of our university community. We want to treat visitors to our campus like friends and neighbors.

On Sunday we host our neighbors up north, Colorado State University, in a televised game in which school loyalties run high. CU vs. CSU is a natural rivalry.

But we are rivals only on the football field. Off the field they are our research colleagues and our partners in advancing the mission of higher education in Colorado.

Together we battle at the statehouse for funding so we can keep tuition as low as possible for our students. Our professors and researchers collaborate in forging new advances in renewable energy, water resources and medical care for the benefit of all. Many of us, including students, have good friends at CSU.

How we treat them and their fans when they are visiting us is a testament to the quality of our CU community. How we regard opponents and fans on any game day is a microcosm of how we treat all visitors to campus whether they are prospective students, parents, alumni, or visiting researchers from around the world.

I encourage students to embrace the competitive spirit of the game but to exercise good judgment in behavior and language and remember that young Buffs are watching.

A new CU-Boulder campaign that encourages students to find their niche in our dynamic community of broad choices poses the question, “What kind of Buff are you?”

The answer will be clear Sunday night.

Philip DiStefano is the chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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