Why We Hate Duke


There are plenty of reasons to hate Duke and their basketball team.  The flopping, floor slapping and weasel-like coach are just a few.   Ironically, my distaste for Duke and their basketball team stretches back to a time when I lacked the vaguest concept of college basketball.

I have only a select group of vivid memories from my early childhood.  Included in this group is a vacation to Cape Cod in September 1991.   On a bright and pleasant Saturday morning, my family and I journeyed down the street to watch the annual Cranberry Festival Parade in Harwichport, Mass.   Like most five year olds, I thought nothing could be better than a parade.   Until, that is, the Duke Blue Devil showed up.

As I sat on the curb of Lower County Road, a wave of fear and panic washed over me as I saw the demonic mascot roll by on a float.  Almost immediately tears began rolling down my face.   I had never witnessed something like that in my five years of life.  Looking back on it, I can’t say what exactly it was that made me react so strongly.  Maybe it was his demonic gyrations and finger pointing.   Or maybe, and more likely, at that age I knew pure evil when I saw it.

When my junior year of high school rolled around, the memory of that day had faded and my college search turned southward.  Duke University seemed like an ideal place.   The weather was warm, Duke had a reputation as a “great school” and a 13 hour road trip separating me from home sounded great.   I figured it couldn’t hurt to take a look. 

So, during spring break, I flew to North Carolina to look at Duke and a few other schools in the South.  I find this difficult to admit, but at first I really enjoyed Duke.  The weather certainly was better.  Temperatures in the mid-60’s simply do not occur in New England in February.   And aside from the intrusive/voyeuristic gargoyles, the campus was picturesque. 

At the end of my tour, I hoped on the bus between east and west campus to catch a ride back to a friend’s apartment.  While admiring my new Duke sweatshirt, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between two students in front of me.   For the 10 minute bus ride, they went back and forth discussing the merits of the Communist Manifesto.  I knew college was a place of higher learning, but it seemed these kids were just too smart for their own good.   After hearing these two babble about topics they likely knew nothing about, I decided Duke was not the place for me.  And I had a $40 dollar sweat shirt to remind me of that.

Luckily, later that afternoon I visited Chapel Hill.  From the minute I stepped on campus, I easily knew this was where I wanted to go to school.   For those of you who are alums or Tar Heel fans, I don’t have to list the numerous reasons I found the place so appealing- you have plenty of your own.   But it didn’t hurt that Ramses never made me cry as a child.