Thursday, March 16, 2006

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In honor of March Madness....

As the NCAA men's basketball tournament gets under way, I'm glad to see that the Chicago Tribune's Julia Keller brings up a fascinating phenomenon among both sports fans and many of my friends -- an irrational hatred of Duke:

As Duke University begins the 2006 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament as the overall No. 1 seed -- meaning those pesky Blue Devils stand a fair chance of hanging around as the bracket unravels to the fortunate quartet -- it is time, clearly, to answer the question looming over the college sports world like a freeze-frame of a jump hook:

Why do so many of us hate Duke?

Is it the fact that they've been astonishingly successful, year after year, or that many referees seem curiously reluctant to whistle fouls on Duke personnel?

Is it the fact that Duke is an inarguably fine school with a sterling academic reputation -- enough to turn those of us from less august institutions a sickly shade of pea-green from sheer envy?

Is it the antipathy that seems naturally to accrue to Duke's consonant-enriched Coach Mike Krzyzewski?

For me, it's all of the above -- plus the perennial assumption that Duke players are philosopher-kings and Coach K is a Plato with a pate enhanced by Grecian Formula.

Lest one think this problem only occurs among laymen, sportswriter Bomani Jones confesses, while watching the ACC tourney, "I nearly got an ulcer sitting at that [press] table not rooting against Duke."

Anyone else out there feel this way? UPDATE: Yes, apparently Abu Aardvark does.

posted by Dan on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM


i literally just ran into JJ and sheldon's stats TA who informed me that they are both failing stats 101. so maybe that will make you all feel better.

posted by: political science grad on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

What me, hate the greatest basketball team ever, coached by the greatest genius ever to coach a basketball team (who is such a genius that he defeated Dean Smith, the man who taught Michael Jordan how to play the four-corners), which always wins, and deserves to win, the greatest basketball conference in the history of the mind of man?

Little old me? Hate Duke? Not that Duke fifth rated college in the country, equal to Stanford, which has singlehandedly invented the 21st century, and ahead of MIT and Cal Tech, and even Berkley, where it takes a Nobel Prize to get a reserved parking space.

Why should I hated Duke, the jewel of the pellagra belt?

posted by: Robert Schwartz on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

As a child of a Duke alum, I remember the Pre-Johnny Dawkins Years when Coach K was in year 3 or 4 of his campaign at Duke. Duke basketball was hardly a blimp on the compass of college basketball. Duke had done well for itself back in the days of black & white--radio?--television broadcasts. Then, it came to the Era of the Bridesmaid. We hit our stride in the tournament and hit the wall in the Final Four--or worse the championship game--and losing. I don't really think there was much Duke Hatred when we were the perennial bridesmaid.

Heck, even when Hurley, T. Hill, G. Hill, Davis, and Laettner were getting us on the champion's stand, I don't think that the Hatred was there. I would imagine that it was building up, but it was no where near the pressure that it has now.

And, I don't think the Hatred was there during our Darker Times when Coach K was dealing with health issues. I imagined that the Duke Hatred would rather fizzle out during that period, but I guess no other program filled in the vacuum between that time and Duke's third championship. By that time, it was on.

posted by: Yagij on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

this is why it's very rational...

posted by: Joe on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

It's private school Northerners in the South who think they're smart. Coach Ksreskcyski cries after the tournament. Every year. How does he get these guys to hug him all the time?

Clearly, winning makes it easier. But there's a lot to dislike regardless. They are dorks.

posted by: Chad on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

"Heck, even when Hurley, T. Hill, G. Hill, Davis, and Laettner were getting us on the champion's stand, I don't think that the Hatred was there. I would imagine that it was building up, but it was no where near the pressure that it has now."

What? It isn't after them, part of it is most certainly Hurley, Ferry and Laettner. While they may all be fine gentlemen today, each played well the role of villian in the grand narrative of college basketball.

posted by: randy on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

It just makes the inevitable victories all the sweeter for us Dookies.

posted by: Charlie (Colorado) on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

I agree with Randy; Hurley, Laettner...I shudder at their names.

Other people at 'smart' schools get to hate them because they have a real basketball program. People at big program schools get to hate them because they all think they're so smart. The do seem to get some real 'character' players, though not as of late.
But, by far the number one reason to hate Duke has nothing to do with what occurs on the court; it's Duke fans, over-enthusiastic nerds...the worst kind of fans. (second only to Boston sports fans).

posted by: ElamBend on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

JJ and Sheldon should have taken POLSCI 138 instead.

Of course, they'd probably be failing anyway, but it'd be fun to flunk a couple of celebrities...

Incidentally, congratulations on being party to a FERPA violation!

posted by: Chris Lawrence on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

Four words:



Duke who? It's all about (Northern Michigan University alum) IZZO!

posted by: Matthew on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

People hate Duke because it is the New York Yankees of college basketball. I'd feel the same way about Northern Iowa if it was the New York Yankees of college basketball.

But what's really frustrating about a program like Duke is that calls never, ever, ever go against it. Ever. Sheldon Williams could shoot an opposing player in the neck and the refs wouldn't bat an eyelash. They get away with bloody murder for no rational reason.

posted by: Sam on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

Flops. My memory of the game might not go back far enough, but it seems that Duke brought acting to the forefront of the college game. The number of flops that were erroroneously called charges was staggering in the late '90s. That is my biggest complaint about Duke. The way ESPN fawns over them makes me sick but that says more about the commentators than the team.

posted by: Dan on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

Coach Ksreskcyski cries after the tournament.

Bzzt wrong answer, that would be Roy Williams with the sodden hanky.

So much hate,

posted by: Pooh on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

The "hatred" is real and has nothing to do with Duke as an academic institution and less than you might think with their basketball program. There are two main components, one of which is in some ways a corollary of the other. The first part is that Coach K is not a likable person. He is known to be an arrogant, foul-mouthed ref-baiter and suspected of bending rules and getting away with it. The "I'm a leader who happens to coach" commercials are truly obnoxious. Along with the inane Chevy commercials (no doubt a significant contributor to GM's march to bankruptcy), they constitute what many feel is an unfair Duke recruiting advantage.

The other, and major factor, is the constant drumbeat for Duke and Coach K in the media, especially on ESPN (or DukESPN as many call it)a . "Dukie" Vitale alone feeds enough sugar to Duke and K to throw a significant portion of the viewing audience into diabetic coma. The slobbering that Vitale and other ESPN personalities do on Duke and K no matter how well or poorly they do with a half dozen hambuger All-Americans on the roster every year, is the disgusting root of the problem. The bias is so obvious that there have been some hilarious photoshops of the Brokeback Mountain posters featuring Vitale, K, and J.J.

In a nutshell, people hate Duke in a way that doesn't apply to other successful programs or coaches because of the ridiculous media fawning and constant exposure, coupled with the deep disconnect between the way the media portrays K and his known personality.

posted by: Nolo Contendere on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

Yah.. I kinda get ya'll with the whole media bliss and stuff like that... I kinda hate that ESPN and sportscasters always talk about duke...
but yet..
I love them..
JJ Redick is awesome...
Though Williams is overrated..
But I hate how some schools take it way to far..
I mean UMD..
Whats up with them??
I mean that guy who told Redick that he had sex with his sister is sick.
Just cut the players a break...
Not their fault they go to a school who nobody likes.
What ever happened to liking players of how good they could play?
Isn't that what its all about?
Im pretty much done here.

posted by: kim on 03.16.06 at 11:18 AM [permalink]

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