Why did I get so touchy when My Team lost an important contest this week? Hint: It’s not because I cared THAT MUCH about the on-court performance. It’s because the Internet is a cruel and hateful place. Yeah, yeah, welcome to the 2000s.
When did it become okay to profess public hatred for something you don’t like? I reserve “hatred” for things like disease, poverty, and that scumbag who threatened me in a parking lot last month. You know what? Chances are, I don’t like your athletic program, either, but you don’t hear me crowing about it a day after you lose. I don’t profess that when Your Team loses, America wins. Usually, I suck it up. It’s just a game, right? But you had to make it personal.
When you say you can’t stand Duke or its fans, you’re talking about me. You’re talking about my family, my classmates, my friends, and people with whom I choose to associate. You’re talking about the place where I learned to ride my bike. You’re talking about my husband and his family, who, while contributing more than 30 years of research to the university, you would NEVER accuse of being entitled rich people. You’re talking about my family friend, an avid hiker and “country lawyer” in Switzerland. You’re talking about the employees who run the university, Durham residents who are pretty happy to be employed. You’re talking about the other athletes, none of whose names you know. Is that fair? Life isn’t fair, you say. Sure, but you don’t have to make it worse.
More money and more obnoxious fans: are there boorish Duke fans out there? Of course–I’ve been one of them. That said, I assure you that the Duke fans I associate with are not entitled rich kids. Roughly half of current undergraduates have financial aid. The obnoxious fans? Why don’t you give this level of grief to fans that throw water bottles at opposing fans or set an entire street on fire (I’m looking at you, Terrapins). The two most oft cited incidents of obnoxious Duke fan behaviour are an incident that seemingly didn’t happen and one that happened more than 20 years ago.
I think the Lacrosse Scandal had a lot to do with Duke’s public perception. That entirely made up incident made a selective private university in a struggling town with a significant African American population look like an antebellum plantation. That image is one that Duke and Durham are going to have to fight for a long time. That’s when I think it became cool to hate Duke. Yes, actually “hate” Duke. Does anyone really condone this sentiment? Well, I sure don’t.
But you just hate the basketball team. You are aware that the roster changes annually, right? You’ve hated every single player that donned a Duke basketball jersey in the last 20 years? What the hell did they do to you? You didn’t like that bad call in a game 20 years ago. Wow, really? I’m bemused by your focus. You don’t like the coaching staff. Sure, dislike the guy who brought home gold medals for USA basketball in the Olympics. What has the coaching staff ever done to hurt you? (Kentucky and UNC fans–and maybe Wojo, given last week’s Marker Incident–are exempted from this paragraph.)
Hell, I’m not above a little schadenfreude every once in a while. But let’s dial back the vitriol and focus our hatred on things like animal cruelty and childhood hunger. Not a damn sports team and the people who support it.