Home > Sports > Why I hate Dook (hint: it’s not because they’re successful)

Why I hate Dook (hint: it’s not because they’re successful)

I tell ya… as a UNC alum and a Dook hater, this has been a pretty interesting week. My open letter to Gerald Henderson was one of the most-read entries in Sweet Monkey Pie history. Coach K is taking flak from sportswriters around the country for saying that the real victim in Sunday’s assault was Gerald Henderson, his player and the offending party. People are digging up an interesting trend in unsportsmanlike conduct from Dookies over the years. And, once again, people are questioning the widely-held assertion that Coach K is the de facto (but self-proclaimed) quintessential leader of young men.

One interesting article I saw, on ESPN.com’s Page 2, was called Love is a Devil, where Thomas Neumann ran down the 10 most hated Dookies in history. Since so few people remember Art Heymann or have any impressions about Mike Gminski or Gene Banks, these are all K’s boys. But, dig the piss-ant disclaimer that Neumann runs in the introduction:

Note to Duke fans: We’re just having a little fun here. It’s not personal. After all, you have to be good to get on this list. This is by no means part of any vast anti-Duke conspiracy at the Worldwide Leader. Just think of yourselves as the Yankees or Notre Dame of college basketball.

I’ve heard this argument before. “The reason you hate Dook,” say their fans and the many media members say, “is because they’re just so gal-dern successful.” So… I’m jealous of their success, ergo I hate the buggers. But is that true? Is Duke really analogous to the Yankees or Notre Dame? Is that a fair comparison (to the Dookies… or to the Bronx Bombers or the Golden Domers)?

The short answer? No.

Let’s be honest… the reason that people hate the Yankees, Notre Dame or the Celtics/Lakers duo in the NBA IS their success. We’re talking years and years of dominance that alienates other fan bases. At the root of the Red Sox fans’ obsessions with the Yanks is a bit of an inferiority complex; 25 World Series titles will do that to you. Since the days of Knute Rockne, college football fans have seen Notre Dame contend for titles, year after year. The Celtics and Lakers have been top-notch contenders in pro basketball for years.

Duke? Sure, they’ve had a great last couple of decades. And, they had some limited success in the late 70s and again in the mid 60s. The success argument falls flat when you start understanding that college basketball in general started developing a hatred of Duke in the early 90s. They had been “dominant” for about five years. Was their success driving all that hatred? I don’t think that can possibly explain such a visceral, uniform reaction.

And what about the other college basketball programs out there? The UCLA teams of John Wooden OWNED the 60s and early 70s, and the won again in the 90s and are now in the top 10. Did anyone truly despise any UCLA player besides Kareem? Has anyone come up with a shirt that says, “Keith Wilkes sucks, but Bill Walton swallows?” like we did for Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley?

What about other programs? Kentucky has 7 national titles spread across the years. My Heels had a dominant run for about the last 50 years with only a couple of hiccups. Kansas practically invented college basketball and is a fixture at the top of the standings.

Now, does ANYBODY hate ANY of those schools the way we hate Dook? I say nay. And it’s not just Carolina fans that are anti-Dook. You can be a St. John fan and hate Dook. Went to St. Bonaventure? Dook haters there. University of South Australia? I’m sure there’s a guy there who thinks J.J. Redick is a punk-ass bitch.

My hypothesis, then, is that we don’t hate Dook solely because of their success. It may be an ingredient (and a convenient excuse for the myopic media that can’t think past 1999), but people don’t have an ingrained hatred for them. It’s learned and cultivated as we watch them on TV. We do not grow up as Bostonians do, with a hatred of the Yankees instilled from infancy. It’s an (easily) acquired taste.

So, why do we hate Dook? I can come up with two reasons:

  • Look at the traditional powers out there (UCLA, UNC, Kentucky, Kansas). These are all state-supported institutions. Universities “of the people.” Duke depicts itself as a “Southern Ivy,” thereby creating an ivory tower effect that the common folk just can’t help hating. Don’t believe me? Read any of the ancillary articles from the Duke lacrosse investigation.
  • Coach K’s system creates an insular, fraternal organization that is beloved by insiders and fans… but it’s a program that completely alienates and befuddles those who don’t “get it.” The players create a close-knit team, but almost rely too much on each other. The floor-slapping, the overt celebrations following drawn charges, the flopping around the court to draw fouls, the weeping after big losses. It’s obvious that the team cares incredibly about their results, and it wins them praise from fawning TV personalities (see Vitale, Dick). It’s also a way of conducting yourself on the court that is ripe for parody (and a big dollop of hatred). See also Battier, Shane.

Put it this way… if you were to ask a Kansas fan to name the most hated UCLA players of all time, could they do it? If you asked me to name 10 hated Kentucky Wildcats, could I? (Not really). Hell, if you wrote about the top 10 most hated Kansas Jayhawks of all time, it would be posted on a Kansas St. or Missouri fansite. It wouldn’t make sense in Sports Illustrated or the Sporting News. Why would anyone hate Rafe LaFrentz or Danny Manning like they do Laettner or Danny Ferry?

But, Neumann’s article — featured on the World Leader’s website — pointed out that college basketball fans, all of us, have Devils that we can hate. And not only are there 10, but there’s an honorable mention to boot. (Although Shavlik Randolph ahead of Shane Battier stunned me. Then, I remembered his recent slur about gay people, so yeah, he’s a rat bastard.)

So, the next time Dook is playing, and you find yourself secretly pulling against the Dookies, don’t be ashamed. You’re not jealous. You’re not green with envy. You just hate what they do and how they do it. Own your hatred. Makes me feel better.

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