As I watch Duke on a fast track to the National Championship, a seething hate is beginning to take over my body. I’m supposed to hate Duke. Now I am, at least.
Having spent 6 years in Chapel Hill, Duke hating comes as naturally to me as duke making. [poo joke] It wasn’t always this way, though. Gasp! Yes, this die hard Tar Heel was once not so anti-Duke. I can’t go as far as to admit that I may have actually been a Duke fan. My skewed memory won’t let me.
When I was young, like now, I loved basketball. I played in a local optimist league and, by chance, I was “drafted” to play for the “Blue Devils.” Naturally, being an impressionable youth, I wasn’t aware that I had been drafted to a team symbolic of everything wrong with the world. My team was successful throughout my years in the league. Eventually, my dad and my best friend’s dad took over coaching duties for the team and we retained the “Blue Devil” moniker, mainly so they wouldn’t have to buy new shirts.
I don't care how many American symbols you have on Chris Collins. I think you're a douche now.
I even remember that I shared a number with Chris Collins and actually actively pulled for him to do well. We had a natural rivalry with the Tar Heel team. We destroyed them regularly. I think it’s fairly easy to see how an innocent impressionable youngster who’s nurturing his love of basketball as a “Blue Devil” … (excuse me while I vomit) … can cause one to be less than hateful toward the school. Fortunately for me, this perception changed.
I have an older brother. We have a natural sibling rivalry, but nothing more than what you would expect from two boys. When my brother started applying for college, he didn’t have any specific athletic allegiances, similar to me by that point. Unlike me, but like the majority of Duke students, he didn’t care much about sports. He applied to the major ACC schools in North Carolina and a few small schools outside the state. Upon acceptance to Duke, his eyes glazed at the perceived status it would bring this woefully average country boy. It was a reaction that would become all too familiar.
Throughout my brother’s tenure at Duke, I visited the campus many times, and I learned to hate everything about it. I hated it’s overdone, imitation Gothic architecture. I hated that I had to sit through the cold wind in an empty stadium to watch a bad football team be cheered on by a scant crowd that could really care less about the outcome.
This doesn't make you dark and enlightened.
Most of all I hated the arrogance that permeated the place. You could smell it, you could feel it, but mostly you heard it. Constantly. I heard spiel upon spiel about how Duke is unlike any other, about how it’s students will rule the country, about how Duke isn’t just the Harvard of the South but better than Harvard and Yale. You heard it on their recruiting speech. I heard enough.
To pile it all on, I heard about the basketball team. Yes, the arrogance of Duke transcends the academic realm. Once the media realized that true “student athletes” (re: white) could exceed on a national level, they jumped on the bandwagon in full force. And Duke students took part as well.
Bolstered by the media myth and mocking UNC’s J.R. Reid, Duke students claimed J.R. could not “Reid.” In response, Dean Smith pointed out that Reid’s SAT score exceeded the media’s model student athlete Christian Laettner’s.
It’s not like the accolades that Duke receives and heaps upon itself aren’t totally undeserved. It is a very good academic institution and it’s basketball team has achieved incredible success. But just because you’re successful doesn’t mean you have to inflate it even further, and that’s something that seems universal to the place.
My brother was never the same. He left for Durham a well grounded, intelligent kid from rural North Carolina. He returned with an inflated ego, a sense of entitlement, and roughly as intelligent as he left.
The phenomenon isn’t isolated with my kin, though. Having encountered more Duke alums in my post graduate education, there is one commonality among them. When asked where they attended undergrad, they all stand with a smirk on their face as they proudly announce, “Duke.”
That smirk says it all.