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Why Duke and I Don’t Get Along

February 4, 2011

“America loves a winner. America will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise a coward; Americans play to win.” – General George S. Patton.

Patton, giving his troops a pep talk just days prior to the invasion of Europe, knew something that nearly 70 years later is fairly obvious – America is filled with frontrunners and bandwagon jumpers. Why else would ESPN even bother discussing something like America’s Team in the NFL, and choose Pittsburgh and Dallas, two teams tied for the most Super Bowl appearances (8) and first and second in Super Bowl rings?  Even the concept, a team that best represents the nation, suggests that there’s a quality that we all, as Americans, look for in a team. It goes without saying that the quality is a history of winning.

As a nation of made up mostly of immigrants maybe it’s something ingrained in our national identity. Assuming most immigrants have a choice of their final destination, you could hardly say that folks coming here, particularly in the last 70 years, were betting on the underdog.

Of course, that doesn’t tell the whole story. What General Patton didn’t share in his pre-battle speech was another fact about being American – we’re also drawn to underdogs. Perhaps it’s another part of our immigrant heritage that attracts us to the scrappy upstart, which also drives us to resent those that were born with a clear path to fame and fortune. In other words, there are a number of people who live to watch those successful teams fail.

You can count me as firmly planted in the second group. My underdog of choice is my alma mater, the Maryland Terrapins. The Goliath to our David is Duke.

Seen by the neutral observer, this could be a clear case of the have-nots hating the haves. In fact, Mike Wise of the Washington Post made his best attempt to support that by painting the Blue Devils as essentially a team that’s impossible to hate. While I think Wise is mostly just trying to get a rise out of Terp fans, he did make one good point: Coach K has never been accused of breaking any NCAA recruiting rules, which is commendable. However, Wise still left the door open for one lone semi-reasonable reason to hate Duke:

“If it’s elitism or imperiousness – in essence, cheering against private institutions that require a lot of money, good grades and/or genuine athletic talent to attend – that’s reasonable when it’s about identifying with an underdog. More often, it’s about pure envy.”

Even though Wise begins to touch on my true motivation for being a Duke-hater, he comes up a little short. I don’t have a problem with anything that might come with being a private institution. I think I would feel just as strongly about Kentucky if Maryland were in the SEC. If anything, my feelings of animosity towards Duke are intensified by their smug arrogance, but certainly that isn’t the basis of it.

The reason why I hate Duke is closely tied to why I love Maryland. I love the fact that we’re the underdog, the overachieving diamonds in the rough. Being a Terp regularly brings rock bottom depressing lows and memorable highs. When they won the National Championship, it was that much more enjoyable knowing how far the program and the players had come.

When I’m depressed after a tough loss, sometimes I think about how much easier life might be if I had taken the easy way out like a significant portion of Duke fans, gone against my principle of unflinching loyalty to my hometown teams, and chosen the path of the front-runner. It might have been easier, but choosing to follow a team because they are successful is about as fulfilling as picking a book because it was on Oprah’s Book Club. If you haven’t lived through the struggles, how can you appreciate the victories? You can’t tell me that bandwagon jumping Duke fans enjoy their ACC Championships the way I enjoyed winning the ACC Tournament in 2004.

It’s not as cut and dry as hating rich kids as Wise suggest, but it’s about hating the widespread culture of sports fans that have cheated their way to experiencing success. Sometimes cheaters do win, and that takes away something from what makes following sports great.

So, yes, Mike Wise, Duke is a very successful program that deserves respect.

But I still hate them.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Josue permalink
    February 4, 2011 8:51 am

    Ha, great post. So true.

    Go Terps! (Even after that game on Wednesday.)

    • February 4, 2011 9:54 am

      Thanks Josue. Our particular year has been through a lot, and I guess it shows. Hopefully we have some bright days ahead. Go Terps!

  2. The Metz permalink
    February 4, 2011 9:13 am

    Comparing Oprah’s Book Club to Dook is blasphemy. Now, I am not a “reader” and I am not someone who “buys books” but I still feel like that was a very low blow to Oprah. Oprah has a school in Africa for women, does Dook have that?

    Also, you failed to mention their ability to get players that are so annoying and would hate them even without their white and blue uniform. Laetner, Scheyer, Reddick, and Paulus belong on the all-time douche list. Not far behind is Zoubek and Cherokee Parks. TO prove I am not solely racist against their white players (although we all know their ability to bring in annoying white players), but Sheldon Williams and Carlos Boozer also suck.

    • February 4, 2011 9:52 am

      Oprah’s philanthropy aside, I think her book club is very similar to Duke. Widely followed, frequently applauded by the media, a big hit with soccer moms, often brings fans to tears. I don’t see many other differences Metz.

  3. Singenius permalink
    February 4, 2011 1:30 pm

    Well said Grande. As a lifelong Jets fan, I feel the exact same way towards the Patriots. And of course as a Terp I effing hate Duke. And by the way, I know I’m old, but you all forgot Shane Battier. Probably the ugliest Dookie of all time.

  4. Tawana permalink
    March 3, 2011 4:20 pm

    Sooooooo Mr. Scott I knw I’m a tad late on commenting BUT I had to cause I LOVE my boys in blue(dark BLUE the right shade:)) Does DUKE have smug arrogance or confidence?? We have undeniable presence and impeccable structure this is something you cant deny…even if you hate us. I’m not a bandwagon DUKE fan I ♥ Carolina basketball and I look forward to March Maddness…ur Terp boys need to focus and get their head back on the game they have potential and are lead by an awesome coach they need to clean up their act and STOP with the sloppiness…maybe they need to watch more DUKE games lol

    • March 3, 2011 5:09 pm

      Impeccable structure? I don’t even know how to respond to that. I respect your dedication to your squad though. And you’re right, clearly my boys have lost their focus. Really disappointing. Hopefully they’ll step it up in Greensboro next weekend.

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