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More than just a game: Carolina vs. Duke (D vs. R)

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Vox_Reason Donating Member (589 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 04:38 PM
Original message
More than just a game: Carolina vs. Duke (D vs. R)
Tonight will occasion the 221st renewal of the college basketball rivalry between the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke University Blue Devils. You might have heard about it on ESPN recently. In their estimation, only Ali-Frazier and Michigan-Ohio State are bigger rivalries in all of sports.

For those of us in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill "Triangle" area of North Carolina, these events are simply like no other. The proximity of the schools (8 miles apart) amplifies this national-scale rivalry to almost unbearable levels. All over the area today, events are taking place before and during the game that will attract thousands of avid fans. The radio already crackles with the pre-game hype. Local TVs are broadcasting from outside Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, interviewing Duke students who have been camping out since January for tickets to tonights game.

Triangle residents will huddle around TVs in homes, restaurants, theaters, and anyplace that can get a TV signal to watch the game. Some will turn down the ESPN sound to instead listen to their favorite homer call the game on their teams radio network. The local ratings will be astronomical. Life will essentially shut down around here at 9:00 tonight. The rest of the world will simply fade into insignificance for 2 and a half hours, and every moment will explode with nervous energy and excitement.

This article, if you can handle the web cooties, is one of the best Ive read about it:
Powder Blue Heaven

It begins:

I hate Duke basketball. And I hate Mike Krzyzewski.

This is not your garden-variety hatred, something you utter with the gravity of a helium balloon. This is a hatred pure of heart, uncorrupted by the sophistries of reason and reasonableness. Its taproot is deep within my soul, in a place where only those ancient bestial emotions lurk. Whenever I see Krzyzewski stomping up and down the Duke bench face contorted in rage, twisted by arrogance, those glirine eyes darting obsessively to and fro as he gesticulates with a pomposity only he can muster a red glaze comes over my vision, an animalistic rage wells from my primal id. I imagine myself endowed with psychic powers: If I concentrate hard enough perhaps he will falter, his team suffer some terrible reversal of fortunes, or, at the very least, that sneer will be wiped from his face for just a moment.

And a couple of new books are quite worthwhile:

To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry, by Will Bythe, and Art Chansky's Blue Blood: Duke-Carolina: Inside the Most Storied Rivalry in College Hoops.

From the Blythe book:

"It is a basketball rivalry that simply has no equal. Duke vs. North Carolina is Ali vs. Frazier, the Giants vs. the Dodgers, the Red Sox vs. the Yankees. Hell, it's bigger than that. This is the Democrats vs. the Republicans, the Yankees vs. the Confederates, capitalism vs. communism. All right, okay, the Life Force vs. the Death Instinct, Eros vs. Thanatos. Is that big enough?"

For those with additional interest in the contest beyond the local experience--alumni, university employees, etc.for those who have ever inquired If God is not a Tar Heel fan, then why is the sky Carolina Blue? and those who bristle and sneer at the question, this is about right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, and yes, liberals vs. conservatives. I can only liken it to the experience of watching election night voting returns the last few elections for many DUers. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but I'm trying to convey the scope of the anxiety, anticipation, and pillow-rending, hair-curling, blood boiling excitement, and that's the best analogy I can provide for you, dear readers.

And indeed, if one would choose to view it in such a way, there is a rather striking political side to this rivalry. It is very stark and very clear. UNC stands loud, proud, and most unabashedly as the icon of liberalism in the Carolina-Duke rivalry. It is the nation's oldest public university, located in a community that is as blue as San Francisco in the middle of red state North Carolina.

The University of North Carolina was anticipated by a section of the first state constitution drawn up in 1776 directing the establishing of "one or more universities" in which "all useful learning shall be duly encouraged and promoted." State support, it directed, should be provided so that instruction might be available "at low prices." A modern example of how Carolina exemplifies its liberal roots is the Carolina Covenant program, which provides a way for low-income students to graduate without debt.

Duke is a very expensive private institution founded in 1924 on tobacco money with an overwhelmingly wealthy out-of-state student population. Its alumni include Richard Nixon, while Carolinas include James Polk, the 11th president who was responsible for expanding our nation to the shores of the Pacific. Dukes faux gothic frillery and disdainful, elitist student body who sneer at their middle-class counterparts at Carolina, as personified by the frequently very unsportsmanlike Cameron Crazies, might remind you of some of the qualities that we so admire about republicans.

Iconic basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski held fundraisers for Elizabeth Doles campaign for John Edwards vacating senate seat, which should be enough to send any DUer without a dog in this fight over the edge. He also plays all kinds of manipulative games with referees and in the offseason gives $40,000 keynotes about leadership and being a profane, arrogant prick.

The contrast between the coaches of both programs is indeed striking. From a University of Kentucky message board:

Where Krzyzweski is patronizing and aloof, Carolina Coach Roy Williams is as plain as spilt cornflakes and as approachable as warm apple pie. Where Krzyzweski requires a thumbprint to take the elevator up to his office, you get the idea you could find Roy hanging out by the janitors closet swapping jokes with the cleaning crew. Where Krzyzweski bristles with military discipline and seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, Williams self-depreciating sense of humor and plain old plainness make it seem as though he might not get offended if you dared ask him a question out of turn.

Most importantly, and what makes Roy so damned likable compared to Krzyzweski is that he isnt a phony. Hes not trying to tell us he is a leader of men, not a coach, because he is a coach and he's clearly proud to be one. It is what it is and needs no embellishing. He didnt hold a press conference when the Lakers asked him if he was interested in their head coaching position, but he could have. He doesnt do any of the maddening things that are a trademark of the Krzyzweski regime.

Before the affable, decent, emotional and classy Roy Williams returned to the fold at Carolina, the coach that defined UNC basketball was Dean Smith. Dean Smith comes from the root of the college basketball tree by way of Kansas, which was Roy Williams previous charge. He was a member of the Kansas teams that won the national championship in 1952 and finished second in 1953. His coach at Kansas was the legendary Forrest "Phog" Allen, who had in turn learned the game from its inventor, James Naismith.

Dean Smith is one of the most important liberals in North Carolina history. You can read the brief but excellent page on him at Wikipedia and see why he should be so venerated by liberals everywhere in America.

An excerpt:

Smith was also perhaps the most prominent liberal in his traditionally conservative state. In 1964, Smith joined a local pastor and a black UNC theology student to integrate The Pines, a Chapel Hill restaurant. He also played a large part in desegregating the city of Chapel Hill when he integrated the Tar Heels basketball team by recruiting Charlie Scott as the university's first black scholarship athlete.

"When I was named head coach the first call I got was from Bob Seymour, our pastor at the Binkley Church," Smith has said, speaking of a church noted for its inclusiveness. "Bob said now that youve been named head coach, you can resign as chairman of the student affairs committee, and your first church work will be to find a black basketball player."

He opposed the Vietnam War and, in the early 1980s, famously recorded radio spots to promote a freeze on nuclear weapons. He has been a prominent opponent of the death penalty. In 1998, he appeared at a clemency hearing for a death-row inmage and pointed at then-Governor Jim Hunt: "You're a murderer. And I'm a murderer. The death penalty makes us all murderers." He often took his players to visit death-row inmates.

While coach, he was recruited by some in the Democratic Party to run for the United States Senate against incumbent Jesse Helms. He declined. But in retirement, he has continued to speak out on issues such as the war in Iraq and gay rights.

A quote:

I just really believe that so much of anybody's ethical action is, `Do it for the least of these my brethren, do it unto me,"' Smith said. "For the unconditional love we receive from the Creator, we're supposed to respond with ethical action.

Yes, Carolina-Duke is just another basketball game, but for some, this game is so much more than that. Duke has beaten Carolina 16 of the last 19 times since the late 90s in very close contests. Before that, Carolina was winning the majority of the clashes. Remind you of any other trends? When Carolina won the 2nd meeting last season on its way to a National Championship, it was the first opportunity I had since the nightmare in November to exult in the defeat of a hated rival. It was an outpouring of so much of the frustration, anger, disappointment and misery in the wake of theft 04, and it was just what I needed.

It all came out with such liberating ferocity that I might have freaked out my brother in law, who was watching the game with mebut it didnt, because he grew up here and he understands what the game means. This past Christmas, he gave me the Art Chansky book about the rivalry linked above as a nice symbolic acknowledgement of what that moment meant to me, which is saying a lot, since we dont agree at all on politics.

He understands that for the people of the Triangle, the epic battles between the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils, which occur at least twice a year and sometimes (and most excruciatingly) more than that, are some of the biggest local events of the year. Even people with no interest in sports cant avoid being aware of it. What if Alabama and Auburn were 8 miles apart? For the people that lived in the area, the only annual Iron Bowl football game would probably create a distortion of the time-space continuum for people living in the community.

Tonight, Ill be going where I go and doing what I do, in the words of 30+ year Tar Heel broadcaster Woody Durham, and hanging on his every word as my beloved Tar Heels enter another epic, valiant struggle against the evil empire and their loathsome leader, Darth K. I hope you will join me this evening in cheering on the boys in Carolina blue, who represent as fine and admirable an embodiment of personal and institutional liberal excellence as there exists in our great country.

GO HEELS!
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northzax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:36 AM
Response to Original message
1. CAROLINA!!!!
well, this is frosting all the Dookies...
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THUNDER HANDS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
2. wow
I had no idea of the political ramifications behind the North Carolina-Duke rivalry. I guess I've always rooted for Duke, but that was because I assumed Duke was more of a Democratic-team and N.C. a Republican one.

Either way I'm not much of a college basketball fan, but I guess I'll be rooting for Gonzaga in the NCAA's, just because I like their name.
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underpants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 08:02 AM
Response to Original message
3. As much as I used to hate UNC....nothing compares to Duke
This comes from a UVa fan from back in the Raker and Lamp days.

UNC just drove me nuts but what I have learned about Dean not only softens the pain but juxtaposed to Duke and Coach K UNC comes out squeeky clean.

Duke fans....I'm really sorry to say this....are rooting for the White Team. That's just it. You don't have to be from NC or the south or anywhere specifically to see that it is as apparent as the nose on your own face.

That being said I was very sad to watch the highlights of the game on ESPN and see that Duke won


I watched the game for real and know that UNC won but if you saw the ESPN recap and didn't pay attention to the final score you would have thought DOOOK won.
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omshanti Donating Member (851 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 11:20 AM
Response to Original message
4. And that, is why I love the TAR HEELS!
Edited on Mon Mar-06-06 11:21 AM by omshanti
WWWOOOOO!!!! (still celebrating from Saturday).

Edit: wonder what would give someone the impression that Duke is "Democratic" and UNC is "Republican"? Just wondering?
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THUNDER HANDS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 04:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. well, they are called the 'BLUE devils'
:shrug:
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kick-ass-bob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 01:22 PM
Response to Original message
5. I am sick and fucking tired of trying to bring in D vs R into sports like
this. It's fucking bullshit.

Duke is so republican? Really? Then why is the Economics department full of Marxists?

If there is one local university that is probably more Repub than any other, it is NC State - and I don't give a shit.

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dr.zoidberg Donating Member (612 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-07-06 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Hey , you sound like me!
Are you trying to steal my gimmick? :) :rofl:
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SteelBird Donating Member (38 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-08-06 02:26 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. right it doesnt matter
When it ocmes to sports, root for the team you sincerely like and admire, I admit I am more of a Tarheel kind of guy then I am a Blue Deiil but its really not politics that makes me prefer UNC, I once read an article on Dean Smith and everything about the man seems real and genuine, plus UNC was my winner in the NCAAs last year and I got the national championship exactly right.
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ticapnews Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:44 AM
Response to Original message
9. I like both teams
When I was growing up Duke was the underdog. They always had a great season and then went out in the tournament. They were a lot like my high school team that went to the championship game seven times in eight years and only won the title once. When Duke played UNLV in the 1991 Final Four I was literally the only person in my class who picked the Blue Devils. Then on Monday I even picked the final score in Duke's 72-65 victory over Kansas. As Duke's success continued they became the team people loved to hate, but I still identified with Duke. In college, our hockey team finally overcame the jinx and won a national title and my coach became nearly as hated in hockey as Coach K was in basketball.

At the same time, Dean Smith was a true hero. As the post points out, Coach Smith took it upon himself to champion Civil Rights at a time and place when doing so could have landed him at the end of a rope. When his team defeated Michigan in 1993 I was very happy for him. I think Duke fans have a respect (if grudgingly) for Coach Smith and Carolina fans feel likewise for Coach K. It's like Red Sox fans who recognize that Derek Jeter is a consummate professional, who just happens to wear a Yankees uniform.

As others have said, I too am getting sick of people trying to turn sports into a political issue. There are instances where it is unavoidable, but injecting political motivations into a rivalry like UNC-Duke is silly. To attribute "GOP" qualities to one school and "Democratic" qualities to another is insulting. And trying to make Coach K out to be Darth Vader (and by default, Carolina out to be the brave rebel alliance) is just as stupid as when the GOP cut up Star Wars and turned Nancy Pelosi into "Darth Nancy." Last I looked, UNC was the defending national champion, not a rag-tag bunch of loveable losers fighting against overwhelming odds.

Let's leave politics to the political arena and out of the sports arena.
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Reverend_Smitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Wow...those are my thoughts exactly!
Right down to the 91 Final Four...I was still a bit of a small fry at the time, but I can vividly remember watching that game with my aunt (who fell in love with Duke the year before with their gutsy performance and ultimate loss in the tournament) She was so excited to see them cut down the nets and I couldn't help but be excited. There started my love affair with the team that has been going strong ever since.

and you're right, I don't hate Dean Smith...I think he's a hell of a person and a hell of a coach. One of my favorite times of the year is the Duke-UNC game, there's so much intensity and excitement, I'd be hard pressed to find a better rivalry in all of sports. So let us not forget that it is just a game (an exciting one) but still just a game.

Although I grudgingly respect UNC...I actually hate Maryland...they suck! :P

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