The Case Against Duke

1/25/2008 12:09:20 AM Some years ago, I stumbled upon what I called, at the time, "The Anti-Duke Manifesto". It was written by a brilliant young UNC Law student, named Brian Allen. His entire treatise has been republished for posterity on Truth About Duke. Allen has since published a book of his musings (you can find it here).

I mention this because with the Duke game approaching this weekend, it is a good time to revisit why we do (or should) hate Duke. Who am I kidding? It's always a good to time to talk about why Duke is the worst.

I will briefly summarize (for Lord knows, I could spend all day dissecting the minutiae of hating Duke) what are for me, the three biggest reasons that Duke sucks.

Biased Officiating

Often cited, it is one of the most mystifying phenomenons of modern sports. Literally thousands of examples exist, but for Terp fans; the 2001 Final Four is forever burned into our collective psyche. I won't resurrect that painful weekend for you, but if you can recall another instance where 60,000 fans simultaneously booed the referees at a neutral venue; please let me know.

Shane Battier became known for being great at drawing charges. Excuse me? WTF does that mean? The blocking/charge call is the consummate bang-bang play. If someone is particularly adept at drawing the charge, perhaps they will get the nod 60% of the time as opposed to an average player getting the call 50% of the time. Shane Battier did not have a blocking foul called against in either his Junior or Senior season. Perhaps that is an exaggeration, but you get the point.

What's even worse is how often game announcers (namely Dick Vitale and Mike Patrick) will morph this into a positive attribute and a testament to Duke's superior style of basketball. A case in point is the way in which Vitale and his ilk treat huge discrepancies between the number free throws Duke attempts vs. their opponents FT attempts. Somehow, it's not biased officiating. Instead, hapless defenders have no choice but to foul under the pressure of Duke's unrelenting athleticism and style of team basketball.

Racist Undertones

Duke has a reputation for having "lots" of white players. Even the most ardent of Duke fans will not deny the label. An unfortunate outcome of this reputation is that it can and does attract racists. In particular, you will find this characteristic prominent among fans who are not alumni (or related to an alumnus).

Typically, the racist undertones are not out in the open . Instead, it is cloaked in other language. Things like "they play team basketball" or "they are real student athletes". I interpret these phrases as code words that are used to hide old and odious racial prejudices. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but think about how many times you have heard that said about Duke. Of course, every utterance of those phrases does not implicate the speaker as a racist; but the language clearly has a subtext. To deny it is to ignore the reality.

Not only are the implications in these cloaked statements disrespectful to every African-American student athlete in the history of college athletics, but a quick check of the facts reveal that Duke's "whiteness" isn't even grounded in truth. If you tally the Duke All-Americans under Coach K, that the majority of them are African American (8) and not white (5)!

The Cameron Crazies

The media has anointed them "the best fans in college basketball". The truth is that they print out "cheer cheats" so they can coordinate their disgusting drivel. Some gems from the cheer cheat include:

- Referring to Juan Dixon's deceased parents as "crackheads"

- Calling Steve Blake "ugly"

- Referring to DJ Strawberry's Dad as a "cokehead"

Some may chalk these comments up to a "few bad apples" in the crowd. How then, do these epithets descend from the student section year after year?

Look, all college students lack class. Just look at our student section. I'm not suggesting Terp fans are any better. They are just as poorly behaved as the "Crazies" and they are definitely less organized. What I'm suggesting is that the media stop fawning all over these over privileged rich kids like they are some sort of uber-fan.

I could go on and on. In fact, I haven't even started on Coach K (after all these years, I still can't even begin to spell his name). Frankly, he deserves his own post.

Hopefully, my little journey through the "aura" of Duke has sufficiently prepared you for Sunday's game.

Until then, let's go Terps!
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