Last Sunday, Bill Morris in the New York Times added to the recent meme that college athletics are “out of control” and need to be reigned in. To illustrate his point he profiles the new-ish tradition at Duke University where students camp out, now months in advance, to insure entrance to the Big Game of the year: Duke vs. UNC men’s basketball. While I agree in some part that college administrations sometimes direct athletics un-due attention and resources that are probably contrary to their founding missions as academic institutions, I also cherish the act of cheering for one’s college team as a form of pure and benign community building. And I think that Morris has latched onto the wrong symbol of collegiate athletic access when he speaks of “Krzyzyewskiville.” Then again, I may be biased because I was there, in line, at the beginning.
I arrive at Duke in the fall of 1982, and I distinctly remember our freshman orientation guide, a junior with spiky blond hair, asking our group if we followed college basketball. All ten of us looked around and then shook our heads. He smiled and said, “a year from now you will be big fans.” Frankly I was most looking forward to the ACC football season as our family were big Ohio State football fans, so I had watched many Big Ten football games growing up and finally wanted to see a college game in person. I didn’t even know if Ohio State had a basketball team, though Dad had mentioned once or twice that John Havlicek of our beloved Boston Celtics had played for Ohio State.
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