When you get right down to it, why DO I hate Duke so very much?

The obvious answer might be the fact that they swiftly handled my Final Four-hopeful Baylor Bears in the last two minutes of their regional final battle on Sunday. 

It was anyone’s game until token lull-me-to-sleep with your methodical, boring-style-of-basketball point guard #1 hit a 3-pointer. Then the other token snooze-fest, oh-wow-did-I-just-fall-asleep-at-a-basketball-game-while-watching-this guard #2 hit yet another 3-pointer. 

What was almost the biggest lead of the game came way too close to the end for recovery, and my precious Baylor Bears did what I lovingly refer to as “Baylored It” in the last 120 seconds that stood between them and our university’s first Final Four in 60 years. I’ve watched it happen for too many years in a row to not know better. But closer to overcoming that habit they most assuredly are getting.

But back to the Blue Devils… that loss is not really why I hate Duke. What I’ve come to realize is that it’s not “Duke” as the institution or the basketball team that I dislike.

It’s the fans.

I really don’t know what happened in my young life to incite such a fire in me on this subject, but I have a fundamental issue and/or debate waiting to happen with any individual who claims to be an avid fan of any collegiate sports powerhouse from which they did not earn a degree. Whether Duke basketball, Texas football, whatever.

To me, it’s either a sign that you aren’t comfortable with risks, don’t have an original thought, or worse… you find comfort, or resistance as Seth Godin puts it in Linchpin, in groupthink. 

Maybe I’m the idiot cheering on the underdog Baylor Bears, but at least I have some stake to claim with that ball club. And if they go down, I go down with them. If they win, I win with them.

I bear the name not just on the shirt I wear on game days, but on my diploma… on my resume. Important places where I bear the burden of a tarnished name in bad times and reap the benefits of a respected name in good times. I don’t have the luxury of just stuffing my t-shirt into the back of a dresser. I wear it every day, like it or not.

And whether you are one of my friends, co-workers or simply Twitter acquaintances reading this, don’t hesitate to debate the validity of my opinion here. I know it’s a very black and white way to look at college sports and the world in general, and anything too skewed as a definite right or wrong most likely has some wrong to it. My husband reminds me of that often. 🙂

But that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t help but wonder why you wouldn’t find more pleasure in cheering for an underdog you can call your own versus the obligatory big-time team with tens of thousands of fans who likely couldn’t even name the state where Duke is located.

So, to all of you Duke groupthinkers, way to really stick your neck out there and take a risk. While you are at it, why not get craaaazy and buy Apple stock in 2003, or make a presentation to your CEO about how social media and mobile are the next big thing.

Way to make yourself irreplaceable.

I say it’s time to be proud of your alma mater. Own it.

Heck, I had to suffer through the Dave Bliss era and near-NCAA death penalty not too long ago during the same year I was receiving that trusty diploma. I was rarely asked about our business program during interviews, but instead whether or not I knew the basketball player who was murdered by a teammate… or the coach who covered up the scandal.

Now, as the Bears clamor for their first glimpse of respect in the Big 12 and the NCAA in general, I’m finally getting some of the good. It comes and goes in waves, so ride it out.

And to all of you Duke fans who will brainwash your kiddos into also cheering for the school that will one day mail 99% of them a short and sweet rejection letter, it might be time to think twice about whom you cheer for.

The odds of reciprocity working in your favor, quite frankly, aren’t good. And we know, all too well, risk just isn’t your thing.

-SKE

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