Is Hating Duke a New Sport?

By David Mohimani  –

Success breeds hate.

Many loyal Duke fans were crushed by the rout delivered to the Blue Devils by Arizona on March 24th, and about the same number of people watched in delight as the Blue Devils championship hopes were squelched.

Why do people hate Duke?

Is it because they represent the upper class of society, or because they don’t recruit city kids, possibly because they are an elite private school, or maybe, is it because they are successful?

A recent ESPN film about the Fab 5 revealed how former NBA star and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, revealed his feelings about Duke players and head coach Mike Krzyzewski while Rose was playing for Michigan.

“For me, Duke was personal, I hated Duke and everything I felt Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me. I felt they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms,” said Rose during his interview for the film.

Rose added, “I haven’t seen coach K in Detroit, but that’s just me.”

Rose later said that this is what he thought when he was 17 but would not say he didn’t still believe it today.

This sparked the national debate even more. Is the reason people hate Duke beyond basketball?

“I hate Duke,” said Junior Alex Kirk.

“I’m a UNC fan and Duke and UNC are huge rivals not to mention coach K looks like a rat,” said Kirk.

Kirk also berated Duke’s practice of only recruiting middle to upper class players.

“It’s snobby and makes me hate them even more,” said Kirk.

While Kirk is not a fan of every team, he does not feel the hatred for any other team that he feels for Duke.

His hatred for Duke stems from multiple reasons – one being their coach.

“I hate coach K, he’s a weasel. I respect his record but I don’t respect him as a person,” said Kirk.

Another reason for Kirk’s disdain for Duke originates from an incident involving one of Duke’s star players.

“Ive always been against Duke but ever since Gerald Henderson threw a punch in a game that was clearly intentional. I’ve hated them strongly,” said Kirk.

Not everyone agrees with that.

Kyle Mumma, a sophomore at Duke University who grew up in Durham and is a student manager with the Blue Devils, disagreed with the notion that Duke only recruits wealthier players.

“I think it’s a perception. We’ve had players who certainly did not come from wealthy backgrounds from Sean Dockery to Josh Hairston. We typically recruit good, outstanding kids, not only upper class kids. We have the luxury to recruit the best of both. The perception is that it’s a function of money but it’s more of the work the players and their parents put in, which culminates in them be recruited,” said Mumma.

As for why people hate Duke, Mumma had a different take than Kirk.

“I think Duke is a place that a lot of people wish they could go both academically and athletically. Its a place they aspire to go. When they realize they can’t achieve their goal, that aspiration becomes a source of jealousy,” explained Mumma.

This begs the question: does success breed hate?

Duke has one of the most successful college basketball programs in history, with four NCAA championships and 15 final four appearances. Duke has been the most successful team in college basketball over the last decade with a winning percentage of .851, which is a sizable lead on Kansas who has the second highest winning percentage over the last decade.

“If you look at schools that people say they hate, like Harvard and Yale, it’s because of their academic success. In basketball, people hate schools that have been successful like UNC and Kentucky. I’ve never heard anyone say they hate Colorado State because they are less successful. I’d be willing to bet that Butler has less supporters this year than last because now they are viewed as a perennial power,” said Mumma.

These are all off-the-court issues about why people hate Duke, but what about on the court?

Duke’s fans, nicknamed the Cameron Crazies, have a reputation for being some of the loudest and proudest fans whose unrelenting chants and cheers may rub some the wrong way.

“It’s a society of drunk college students who jump around in tights and scream chants that don’t make sense. They failed as athletes so the best they can do is bash on other people,” said Junior Eric Schlotzhauer.

Junior Joey Jackson, a Duke fan, expressed his admiration for the Crazies.

“The Cameron crazies just have the best aura in college basketball.  The only place that even compares is Kansas. They have the best and most loyal fans,” said Jackson.

So Duke’s loyal fan base may contribute to people’s anger towards the program.

Another reason some cite for hating Duke is the perception that the referees sometimes hand them a few calls that other teams may not get.

“Everyone knows it. They aren’t hiding anything. People know that when they play Duke they better make sure it’s not close at the end because if it is, the refs will find some way to give the game to Duke. There’s nothing anyone can do. It’s something I’ve come to expect when I watch a Duke game,” said Schlotzhauer.

“That’s pathetic, if you watch the games from non-biased perspective you know that’s not true. The only calls they sometimes get is charges because they try to take a lot so they benefit from that sometimes,” said Joey Jackson.

Whatever the reason is, people hate Duke.

The reasons people give for hating Duke ranges from their players, their coach, their fans and also ranges in severity from casual fans who root against Duke, to full blown passionate haters who believe that hating Duke is as important, if not more important, than supporting your own favorite team.

It all boils down to, why people hate?

The reason seems to be clear, it’s because Duke is successful not only on the basketball court, but in the classroom and after their education at Duke.

A 2009 study showed that the average median salary from a Duke alumni who graduated 5-15 years ago was $102,000.00 per year, a higher average salary than Ivy League Cornell grads.

According to a survey conducted by the the two most hated sports teams in America are the Yankees and Duke basketball.

And there is no real correlation between the two teams other than their sucess.

The Yankees are by far the most successful team in American sports history with 27 world championships and Duke is one of the most winningest teams in college basketball history.

Coincidence? Maybe not.

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