The Duke Hatred Report

Everybody loves an enemy. You can’t have an “us” without a “them.” There’s no greater uniter than a common adversary.
And boy do people love to hate Duke. It’s pretty fascinating really, to see just how far this national obsession with the Blue Devils has gone. There have been a lot of hated teams in my lifetime – the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, Notre Dame football, North Carolina basketball, the Cobra Kai – but nobody has seen a backlash quite like Duke.
The Duke Basketball Report has a long article today taking a look at the phenomenon. It’s an interesting read, but I get the feeling that they never quite nailed the reasons why they are hated. I think it’s hard to be that close and still see what’s happening. It’s like trying to describe the Empire State Building while standing at it’s base.
To me, the hatred boils down to a few key points:
1. Duke wins, a lot, and has won for a long time . After a while, Americans tire of a winner.
2. Duke is everywhere. This is an offshoot of the first point, but it’s important enough to stand on its own. Nobody hates the Carolina women’s soccer team. Duke is on TV all the time and even when they aren’t, Dick Vitale and the other announcers talk about them. This has been going on for nearly two decades now.
3. Duke University is an elite school filled with largely rich kids. The kids who go to Duke are the ones you hated in high school – the ones smarter and richer than you. Then you see those kids on TV chanting and jumping and getting credit for being so much more clever than other schools’ fans.
4. Duke has had a lot of very good white players. I can’t explain why, but nobody pisses off opposing fans quite like a good white player, and Duke has had quite a few very good (OK, and some not-so-good) ones – Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, JJ Redick, Steve Wojciechowski, Chris Collins, Josh McRoberts, etc.
5. Mike Krzyzewski isn’t exactly the most lovable guy in the world. He screams at refs, his voice is whiny, he rarely talks to local reporters and he makes TV commercials about what a great guy he is. It’s like he wants folks to hate him. Seriously, I think he probably does want this.
Add it all up and you have a perfect storm of virulence.

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