When I sat down to decide what the best thing to write about in Sportsmanlike Misconduct’s first blog post, I thought about writing my biography…Too predictable. NCAA tournament expansion? I’m not qualified enough to give an accurate opinion. The NBA Playoffs? Who cares. Instead I came across the one topic that I could write about for days, weeks, months and yes, even years. The one thing that has consumed me from the earliest sports memory I have. Hating Duke.
The new train of thought on the Duke Blue Devils is that we should all like Duke, or at the very least, not hate them. I would say that the opposite should be true. Now more than ever is the most important time for all of us sports fans to hate Duke. The personnel holds no bearing in this conversation, so don’t listen to the B.S about how this Duke team has no Laettner, no Wojo, no Redick worth hating. No villains, no problem? What a ridiculous premise. Last time I checked, Wojo is still sitting on the bench. Chris Collins is still doing halftime interviews because his mentor is too good for it. And yes, Coach K is still directing expletive-laced rants at every official throughout the game. Dukie V is still screaming about the Blue Devils on ESPN. Get the idea? Hate them all. There’s good reason to do so. However…
WE NEED DUKE
Every sport needs a villain. Every sport that is worth watching must have a team that everyone hates, a player that no one can stand, and an icon that makes our blood boil. The necessity is simple. For as much as we love our own teams to win, it is almost just as fulfilling to watch the villains lose. This is no new idea, people have hated the Yankees, Lakers, Celtics, etc for years. It doesn’t matter who is on the team, nor should it. These teams give fans the constant reason to tune in and watch the games. It doesn’t matter how bad/good our teams are, gathering around to root against the villains gives fans the endorphin release that we need. However, in the interest of the hate to continue, maybe we shouldn’t really hate Duke at this point. Maybe, the true Duke haters such as myself should hope that they do win! Insanity creeping in….
The only reason that I would ever spell out the words that make this previous sentence (no matter how blasphemous it may be), is that the Duke hate has taken a nap. Duke hasn’t won a national championship in almost a decade. But if they win it this year, it could be war… and personally I think it’s time to unite. If the Blue Devils cut down the nets, that is EXACTLY what will happen. Sure, we all enjoy watching Duke suffer through insignificant seasons when they are overrated and bow out to Virginia Commonwealth, or get embarrassed by West Virginia and Villanova. Lets not forget the magic that LSU and Michigan State possessed in humiliating JJ Redick. Those years are inconsequential now, yet necessary. As great as those years were to those in the brotherhood of despising Duke, they were secretly calming down our hate. They were the pretty boy in high school who dated a hot girl for a while, but we all knew she would dump him and eventually he’d realize he was a hack all along.
I can’t tell the future, but I can guarantee one thing. If Duke wins the national championship, the moment when Coach K embraces Jon Scheyer and cries, everyone with a soul will be pissed off beyond all belief. The anger will sit in the pits of our stomachs until next year, and the venom will get strong. It will become more fashionable than ever to hate Duke, mostly because of self-directed anger for those who were considering not hating them. Seth Curry will become the Anti-Stephen Curry, with no one interested in his boyish look and incredible shot. Instead he will become just another storm trooper, another bad guy, another….Dookie. That would be a slice of heaven.
I am well versed in the school of hating Duke. Please don’t question my credentials. I remember sobbing my self to sleep at the age of four when chest-stomping Laettner hit his shot. I grew up watching the 1991-92 NCAA tournament highlight film (a gift from Duke fans, soulless as they are) until the moment Jim Nantz said, “This time, Duke had an answer”. In retrospect, I don’t think the last 10 minutes of that film has ever been viewed in my household. Nor should it be. Hating Duke is a family tradition, from my brother (who is a casual fan in all ways except hating Duke), to my 60-year-old mother, to myself. One topic of conversation that never loses steam among my family is the one that starts with, “Well, Duke cheated again.” It brings together families, friends, and all things holy and good.
So whether Duke loses this weekend (Lord willing), or if Duke cuts down the nets in Indianapolis, we must unite. Against Wojo. Against Coach K. Against Laettner (forgiveness is overrated). And finally, the Duke hating brethren would “have an answer”.