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Duke University: It takes more than NCAA basketball championships to be champions ⋆ Politicrossing

Duke University: It takes more than NCAA basketball championships to be champions ⋆ Politicrossing

When I moved to the Triangle area years ago, I was eager to partake in the best that both the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Duke University had to offer. I lived near Route 15-501 on the border between Durham and Chapel Hill and was equidistant from both campuses, even though my mailing address was in Chapel Hill.

Both schools had wonderful campuses, and I enjoyed visiting Duke’s magnificent bell tower, Sarah Duke Gardens, the hospital complex, East Campus, and nearby Ninth Street. I also enjoyed visiting UNC’s Dean Smith Center, the Bell Tower, Kenan Stadium, the student union, and many libraries.

Looking forward to attending

Duke University had just won the NCAA basketball championship when I moved here. He had been a long-time college basketball fan and was looking forward to visiting Cameron Indoor Stadium.

When I first started attending games, I noticed distinct differences in the way the crowds at the two universities treated the visiting sports teams. The fans of the University of North Carolina, in its spacious Dean Smith Center, showed respect for the opposing players. When the teams were announced, UNC fans clapped or remained respectfully silent. During games, there were few times I heard abusive language from anyone in the stands. The exception was when someone on an opposing team acted too aggressively toward a UNC player or made some similar mistake.

When Dean Smith was coaching at UNC, if he detected even slightly abusive fan behavior toward opposing players, he would look in the student section and within moments the abuse would stop.

Conversely, I had a hard time justifying the behavior of the people who attended Duke games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Cameron Crazies, as they are called, act with no respect for anyone but those in a Blue Devil uniform, and I wonder if they even respect their own team.

Over the years, these students have thrown tubes of Clearasil on the floor making fun of players on other teams who had acne problems. They’ve made specific and intentionally hurtful references to players’ family members, grades and even incidents on campus, such as a shooting at North Carolina State University.

Condon at the top

I began to see in a larger sense that the “Cameron Crazies” have endured because at a higher level, be it the basketball coaches, the university administration, the chancellor, the university chancellor or the board of trustees , they indirectly approved of his behavior.

At the start of Atlantic Coast Conference games, when the announcement comes on asking fans to respect the players, coaches and game officials, Duke fans don’t listen. Neither Dick Vitale nor other broadcasters have the courage to speak on this issue and instead offer platitudes about fan “spirit” to 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 out and tickets were easier to come by. There were enough students on hand to keep the banter going. Trying to be objective, I began to observe them with something like a curious detachment. I reasoned that of course every home team fan loves to win and loves to celebrate victory as their team advances.

With Duke, however, there is a teasing, a “hazing” ritual, that goes beyond anything I’ve seen elsewhere, and I’ve had the opportunity to see over twenty-five college basketball teams in ten to twelve different states.

Look down on others

As we head into the final week of regular season play before the 2023 conference tournaments, I know this: Duke’s “crazy” look at the opposing team’s players, especially those from North Carolina and state of North Carolina, with total contempt. The antics of the Cameron Crazies, instead of being clever, are obnoxious. They smack of the elitism that is part of the Duke campus mentality.

Duke prides itself on being an upper-class institution and, in many quarters, likes the moniker “Harvard of the South.” However, visit Harvard, look at its institutions and sports and the way its students and fans interact with each other, and you will see that they bear no resemblance to Duke.

The now-retired Coach K often lamented that Duke was not a fan favorite (outside of Duke University). Could that be word of Duke’s utter disdain for all things non-Duke spreading? I was excited when I moved to the Triangle area, equidistant between Duke and UNC. I wanted to embrace both universities and partake in 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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