Keying Cars and High School Rivalry


“We (Los Gatos High School) had a big rivalry with this high school called Palo Alto High School. It wasn’t a fun rivalry like USC and UCLA. People would get in fights and stuff. Our high school would key their cars and we couldn’t go to their sports games [because the rivalry was so intense]. Los Gatos kids just liked to key people’s cars and the seniors even keyed the junior’s cars one time.”


EK is a 19 year old American student at USC. She described the culture at her high school and around the rivalry between her high school and a neighboring one. She was raised in Northern California. 


It is always interesting to me to hear the different ways that high school rivalries proliferate. While my high school had “big rivals” we would never escalate to anything physical or any property damage. Something like keying cars and being known for that is an example of how deep these rivalries can run – often with unknown origins. People hate another town/school simply because that’s the way it’s always been done, and it comes to a head during sports games and other competitions of that nature. Subcultures, like keying cars, can develop out of that rivalry.