When I moved to the Triangle area years ago, I was eager to partake of the best that both the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Duke University had to offer. I lived near route 15-501 on the Durham-Chapel Hill border and was equidistant to both campuses, although my mailing address was in Chapel Hill.
Both schools had wonderful campuses, and I enjoyed visiting Duke’s magnificent Bell Tower, its Sarah Duke Gardens, hospital complex, East Campus, and nearby Ninth Street. I equally enjoyed visiting UNC’s Dean Smith Center, Bell Tower, Kenan Stadium, student union, and many libraries.
Eager to Attend
Duke University had just won the NCAA Basketball Championship when I moved here. I had been a long-time college basketball fan, and I was eager to visit Cameron Indoor Stadium.
As I began to attend games, I noticed distinct differences in the way crowds at the two universities treated the visiting sports teams. Fans at the University of North Carolina, with it’s spacious Dean Smith Center, showed respect for opposing players. When the teams were announced, UNC fans either applauded or were respectfully silent. During the games, there were few times when I heard abusive language from anyone in the stands. The exception was when someone on an opposing team acted overly aggressive towards a UNC player or committed some similar faux pas.
When Dean Smith was coaching at UNC, if he even mildly detected abusive fan behavior toward opposing players, he would stare at the student section and, in a matter of moments, the abuse would stop.
By contrast, I had a hard time in my own mind justifying the behavior of the people who attended Duke games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Cameron Crazies, as they are called, do not act with respect for anyone other than those in a Blue Devil uniform, and I question whether they even respect their own team.
Over the years, these students have thrown tubes of Clearasil on the floor taunting players from other teams who had acne conditions. They have made specific, purposely hurtful references to players’ relatives, grades, and even campus incidents such as a shooting at NC State University.
Condoned at the Top
I began to see in the broader sense that “Cameron Crazies” have endured because at some higher level, be the basketball coaches, the university administration, provost, university president, or board of trustees, indirectly condoned their behavior.
At the start of Atlantic Coast Conference games, when the announcement comes asking fans to respect the players, coaches, and game officials, Duke fans aren’t listening. Neither Dick Vitale nor other announcers have the gumption to speak out on this matter and instead they offer platitudes about about fan “spirit” at Cameron.
Does ridiculing the other team show spirit? I doubt it.
For a while, I attended a couple of Duke games each season, usually during the holidays when most students were gone and the tickets were easier to come by. Enough students were on hand to continue the antics. Trying my best to be objective, I began observing them with something akin to curious detachment. I reasoned that, of course, every home team crowd loves to win and loves to celebrate the victory as their team pulls ahead.
With Duke, however, there’s a taunting, a “hazing” ritual, that goes beyond anything I’ve seen elsewhere, and I’ve had the opportunity to watch more than twenty-five college basketball teams in ten to twelve different states.
Viewing Others With Contempt
As we head into the final week of regular season play, before the 2023 conference tournaments, I know this: Duke “crazies” view opposing team players, especially those from North Carolina and NC State, with outright contempt. The antics of the Cameron Crazies, as opposed to being clever, are obnoxious. They smack of the elitism that is part and parcel of the Duke campus mentality.
Duke prides itself on being a high-class institution and, in many quarters, it relishes the moniker the “Harvard of the South.” Yet, visit Harvard, view its institutions and sports and the way their students and fans interact with others, and you’ll see they bear no similarity to Duke.
The now retired Coach K often lamented that Duke was not a favorite among fans (outside of Duke University). Could it be that word of Duke’s utter disdain for all that is non-Duke is spreading? I was excited when I moved to the Triangle area, equidistant between Duke and UNC. I wanted to embrace both universities and partake of all they had to offer. Now, after all these years in the area, I want nothing to do with Duke University.
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The post Duke University: It Takes More Than NCAA Basketball Championships To Be Champions appeared first on Politicrossing.
This article by Jeff Davidson originally appeared on PolitiCrossing.com and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.
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