“To Hate Like a This Is To Be Happy Forever.” That’s the title of Will Blythe’s book on Duke-Carolina basketball, and it’s been on my mind. (The modest subtitle: “A Throughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-Carolina Basketball Rivalry.”)
I am a native North Carolinian and a walking Duke-Carolina mashup. A professor’s daughter, I was practically raised on the Duke campus. In high school I spent as much time taking Duke classes, training with the Duke track team, and dating Dukies as I did being a high schooler (Hey, those track guys were cute!). Then, in college, I underwent a Michael Jordan 1982-NCAA Championship conversion to Tarheelism thanks to my then-boyfriend-now-Mate, and Duke became Dook. For six years we enjoyed season tickets in Chapel Hill. Despite moving to the west coast in 1990, we continued to watch and listen to every Tarheel game, wearing our Tarheel gear. And, since 2011, I’ve driven across the country with The Mate every spring to watch ACC tournament games (and eat BBQ) with our Tarheel Tribe.
My parents remain Dookies. It goes without saying we don’t watch games together; we don’t even talk basketball. But our Tarheel Tribe? We call Duke’s Coach K “that weasel.” Although I am an otherwise nice person (or so I’ve heard), I relate completely to Mr. Blythe’s book–something my friends who know me only through music or Quaker Meeting probably find bemusing.
This past weekend, The Mate and I had the opportunity to relive our past and attend the Carolina-Duke game. Last game of the regular season. Senior Night. First time (for me & The Mate) back in the Dean Dome in 25 years. And it all came back: the ridiculousness, the over-the-top display of sports commercialization, the wriggling cheerleaders, the immature fans…and the pure, raw, irrational passion of team sport.
No matter what else it is, college basketball is religion. And Carolina-Duke is Mecca.
Sports pundits nationwide call it the greatest rivalry in sports. Hyperbole? I don’t think so. But who cares?
I screamed myself hoarse, convinced that the ball depended on my noise to guide it into the basket. When Carolina lost, succumbing to a–let’s face facts–superior squad of players, I blamed myself as much as the Heels. Just a few more decibels…!
I don’t hate Duke. Duke practically raised me; it paid (through my dad) for most of my college tuition; it launched me as a competitive athlete. But Dook? Dookies? May they burn in Blue Hell with the Weasel!
Except for my parents, of course. And a handful of old friends; they know who they are. And they understand…to hate like this is to be happy forever. If only all hatred were so benign!