This whole thing started off innocently enough. When this year’s NCAA tournament brackets were first released, the three of us on the site divvied up the four regions to write previews for, and the Duke contingent decided it would be best for me to write the South Region preview, as I could examine it from the outsider’s perspective. It wasn’t a bad piece of writing if I do say so myself, other than the rather egregious error of saying Duke was the team most capable of an early exit (but I did nail the ODU-Notre Dame upset at least!). However, one sentence in the middle of the piece seemed to touch a nerve: In the piece, I wrote that “Like most of the country, I’ll still be rooting for [Duke] to lose as soon as possible.” This drew a bit of ire in the comments section (mostly from Duke fans, naturally) saying that, contrary to what I was writing, most of the country would not be rooting for Duke to lose. I even ended up on Gchat with fellow BvB scribe Bart Matthews defending my statement, which he rebuffed by saying that while Duke was certainly hated by some, they weren’t THAT hated nationally anymore.
Then, as quickly as he had come to Duke’s defense, he had to admit that he was wrong… In his words, “Extremely, very, unequivocally wrong.”
While Duke’s fan base may have once thought the hatred was dissipating during their few “off” years, it has certainly returned in full force. And I think the thing most mystifying about it all at this point, which I have detailed in writing several times about Duke this year, is that this was on paper a pretty likable Duke team. So it seems that the national hatred for Duke wasn’t something that vanished, only to return once a particularly unlikable Blue Devils team came together. No, it appears that hatred has been there all along, laying just slightly dormant, a waking giant just waiting for another chance to bash Duke. Both before, during and after the Final Four, Duke-hating has run rampant: there was the kerfluffle over the Indianapolis Star doing some devious doodling in a photo illustration, Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman discussed the reasons behind the Devil hatred on a podcast, and even Fox’s smash-hit musical show Glee managed to slip in a dig, as a character quipped “I hate Duke like I hate the Nazis.”
So we wanted to finally devote some space to the question that, we realize, plenty of other people have asked, but never here, in this forum, by opposing sides of college basketball’s biggest rivalry. That question, of course, is: Why does everyone hate Duke? We want to examine several areas that, legitimate or not, may play a part in the national hatred for Duke, including:
- Part 1: The University - where we talk about the college itself, the students it puts out, and the fans it attracts.
- Part 2: The Media - where we talk about the role of certain sports journalists stirring the pot (we won’t name names, but let’s just say one of the guys we target rhymes with Whason Jitlock) as well as passive hatred-generators like Dickie V.
- Part 3: The Team - where we examine to what degree Coach K and his players have brought this on themselves, and what part of it amounts to bad stereotypes.
- Part 4: Playing the Race Card - where we finally ask whether or not some of this has to do with Duke’s prevalence of white players over the years. Oh yes, we’re going there, and it’s going to be awesome.
These posts will be put up over the course of the next week (or weeks) and take the form of Question-and-response pieces that are collaborations by all three of us on the site, so you can look forward to that. In the meantime, here’s what I’d love from anyone and everyone who reads the site:
- If you are a Duke supporter: Take a second to leave us a comment about one particular issue you’d love to see us address in this series. We’re going to do our best to be comprehensive over the course of this series, so we want to try to include any areas that you as a fan base feel especially passionate about or something you feel like the Devils are unjustly accused of.
- If you are a Duke hater: Leave us a comment telling us a particular reason why you hate the Duke Blue Devils. Look, we know there are plenty of reasons - why do you think we’re devoting a 5-post series just to this? - but if you had to name just one thing, what would it be? We want to make sure we discuss what the haters think are legitimate reasons behind their hatin’.
I will once again try to remind everyone that we maintain a (relatively) civil discourse on the site, so let’s try to stay away from name-calling or degenerate into hate-mongering, but anything shy of that is fair game. This is one forum where even the Duke fans want to hear why you hate them… so fire away.
Let the fracas begin!