Earlier this month, I watch my alma mater and employer, Duke University, play Butler University (who defeated Syracuse, Kansas State, and Michigan State before playing Duke) in the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship Game. It was an impressive and amazingly close game throughout, and I was on the edge of my seat for pretty much the whole game! My sister and her family were there, and it was fun to receive periodic pictures of them, donned in Duke blue, from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
It was interesting to follow the feedback fom Facebook and Twitter, two social networking sites I'm on, in the couple of days leading up to the Duke-Butler matchup. Admittedly, if Duke hadn't been in the championship game, I probably would've been rooting for underdog (but barely!) Butler. After the game, I was fascinated by all of the banter on Facebook. Because of the various activities I've been involved in outside of work in the area, I'm Facebook friends with a number of people with different loyalties for ACC (and numerous other) schools. It's pretty interesting how adults (some of them years out of college) have such loyalties to one school's team, that the thought of pulling for one's conference or state is unthinkable. Many of my Facebook friends are Duke fans, as you would probably guess, so we had fun commenting on and "liking" each other's posts!
I can certainly understand school pride, even as an adult. I guess what I find a bit surprising is how dramatic some adults' negative feelings were about Duke's win, especially since none of them was actually playing on the Butler team!! While some people have expressed a "good game" sentiment, at least outwardly, a surprising number have had negative things to say about Duke's win. Below are a few comments that I saw publicly, some directed AT me:
* "Not Dook. Gotta draw the line somewhere."
* "Good game.....too bad the wrong team won."
* "Ironically, I can't stop throwing up."
* "I have no words...what a way to end an already horrible season for the Heels." [a reference to the neighboring rival UNC Tarheels, who won last year's NCAA national championship, but finished the current regular basketball season at about 50%, and lost in the championship game of the NIT.]
With written text, it can be hard to know the true intent, perhaps written with a wry smile or even a laugh. It's interesting, though, that taken straight up, adults would show a lack of good sportsmanship. (Sometimes I think silence is golden.) I remember, as a student, taking wins and losses with more emotion, for sure. The Duke mens' basketball team lost in the Championship game in 1986, my senior year. But now, eventhough I'm back on Duke's campus and being paid by the university, I would have wished Butler (and their fans) well if they'd won this year's title game.
In some articles I've read about Duke since the game, I know many people think Duke has a bunch of snobby rich kids in its student body. I'd like to ask those people if they've met my niece, a Duke junior. Or the sharp work-study students that the library (and many other departments) hire on campus every semester. Or the kids who volunteer for Habitat or Duke Hospital or the local school system. And Duke isn't just about its students. It just so happens that Duke is the largest employer in Durham County. That's pretty amazing, especially considering all the corporations that reside in Research Triangle Park, which is in Durham County.
Just yesterday, I ran in a 5K in Raleigh, and commented on a fellow runner's Duke National Championship t-shirt before the race started. She smiled at me and said I was the first person all morning who'd said something about the shirt, and what a great game it was. She was with a couple of her friends, and one of them said something negative about the game, replying that she was a UNC Tarheel fan. A friend with me responded, "Go Tarheels!" and the two of them smiled at each other. I let it go, but I was surprised (in person this time) by the lack of good /gracious sportsmanship.
I will get off my soapbox for now, but I will share the link to an interesting article from bleacherreport.com that a Duke classmate posted on Facebook. Take a look at it here.