On Duke Hatred

From the "My Commenters Are Smarter Than Me" here's spaceghost06 offering some context for understanding the Duke Way:


There are a couple of factors. I don't think, for example, Duke is more interested in background than UNC, but over time when your program gets to a point when you can pick and choose who you recruit you go for the best player who is going to cause you the least amount of trouble and graduate. They may come from a single parent home or not, but you can avoid kids than seem headed for trouble (Dean stopped recruiting Chris Washburn for this reason). It's kind of like Oprah. When her show first started she was doing paternity test, KKK, and makeover shows like everyone else, once she got success she was able to do it the way she wanted to. 

 Duke is very skilled at PR for their program. The basketball program is definitely used to sell the school. For example, every year they will play at least one Ivy League team in a non conference game. They are trying with this to sell Duke as being in the same class as the Ivies, but we also have a great basketball team which they don't have, you'll have more fun if you come here. Those are the students they are trying to appeal to. This further adds to the tension between UNC & Duke because most of them aren't from NC and don't really care for the state. I went on a recruiting trip to Duke and on the tour the guide said,'the only thing good about this state is this university.' He obviously didn't know I was a native. I also happen to think the annual drubbing an Ivy League school is important to the students as some of them didn't get into those institutions, probably one of the few times they had been told 'no'. One of the jokes at UNC is the easiet way to shut up a Dookie is just say 'Harvard.' 

They will usually schedule a game in the NY/NJ area as they have a lot of alumni there. The biggest difference between Coach K and his mentor Bobby Knight is the former's understanding of good relations with the media. That said I think the hatred for Duke ,outside of NC & MD especially, is due to the constant media narrative of Duke as the ONLY school that does it the right way. There are plenty of schools that are on the level of Duke in bball and academics but they have been singled out. It's the same push back seen in the Tebow and Tyler Hansbrough phenomena. 

There is definitely an element of race involved. I think people realize Duke is being pushed to the forefront by the media in part because they attract white athletes who are stars in their program. This is the part that makes people mad, not at the athletes, but at the way their whiteness is celebrated. Through no fault of their own becoming media darlings created a backlash. Coach K embraced the backlash and uses it as motivation for his team. Dick Vitale was really bad about it.


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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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