There are two immutable facts about every NCAA tournament:
1. Your bracket will fall apart.
2. Everyone celebrates when Duke loses.
Duke fell early on Friday to Mercer, its second early exit in three years, and we as Americans stood atop the wreckage of our shattered brackets and we cheered:
At times like this, there are really no losers. Because when Duke loses, aren't we all winners? #ncaa— Ron Frankl (@ronfrankl) March 21, 2014
DUKE LOSES DUKE LOSES DUKE LOSES DUKE LOSES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES bad for my bracket but YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES— Michael P. Ventura (@mpventura) March 21, 2014
A loss for Duke is a win for America.— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) March 21, 2014
The sporting nation haaaaates the Duke Blue Devils, and there's not even a close second. The Yankees, the Cowboys, Alabama football ... none of these come close to inspiring the level of bone-deep loathing that Duke does. Maybe it's a few raised beers at the sports bar, maybe it's entire works of literature, but Duke hatred is as perpetual and all-enveloping as the sunrise.
You, Mr. or Ms. College Basketball Viewer, fit one of two groups: you went to Duke, or you hate Duke. There are no sidelines on which to sit, no fences to straddle. But why do we hate Duke so much? Is it the smug sense of privilege? The favoritism shown by refs, announcers and the NCAA? The constant whining and complaining whenever things don't go the Blue Devils' way? Jealousy? (Yeah, maybe a bit.) Of course, Duke does little to help its own case:
. Oh well....live and learn! But I will say this....this type of crap didn't happen from '89-'92!! #dukedynasty89-92— Christian Laettner (@laettnerbball) March 21, 2014
Grant Hill, the most accomplished Duke player in history and, along with Shane Battier, one of the most respected, has a semi-serious theory on why: "white-on-white hate." In an interview with Bleacher Report, Hill, a two-time national champion, outlined his not-so-serious "theory" on why people hate Duke:
"I played with Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner, and they were despised when we went on the road,” Hill smiled. “But you look into the crowd and it was nothing but white students at the games, so it was white on white hate. It’s sad.”
Before anyone gets too aggrieved about the racial component of Hill's "argument," slow down. Hill is smart enough not to use race in a broad generalization like that; he's clearly joking. He knows that it's just fine for people to hate Duke, whether or not the players in blue are white. For most fans, Duke disdain sees no color.
But the racial component of Duke has indeed had an impact, at least on certain recruits. The New York Daily News pointed to the commentary of Jalen Rose, former Michigan standout and now an ESPN commenter. "I hated Duke,” Rose said in a 2011 ESPN documentary, “The Fab Five." “And I hated everything I felt Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.”
He later backed off the intensity of that statement, saying, “Well, certain schools recruit a typical kind of player whether the world admits it or not. And Duke is one of those schools. They recruit black players from polished families, accomplished families. And that’s fine. That’s OK." But that perception, plus the fact that Rose didn't come from such a family, only contributed to his loathing.
The rest of us will have to craft our own reasons. There are so many to choose from.
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