It was a hard weekend to be a Duke fan. Getting booted out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round is a pretty tough pill to swallow…particularly when your favorite team is automatically expected the make it to the Sweet 16 without trouble. Thank heavens for me, I’m also Irish so celebrating St. Patrick’s Day helped soften the blow. In my 10 years as a Duke basketball fan, I’ve discovered that it can be a pretty polarizing team to root for because there is rarely any indifference when it comes to Duke. College basketball fans around the country either LOVE them or HATE them. Needless to say Friday night’s upset in which Lehigh beat Duke, eliminating them from a shot at a National Championship title, exploded on social media.
I mean when @GayleKing tweets, “Duke lost to lehigh ??!! Whaaat?? HOW?? WHY?? I love the school because of favorite son who is now in mourning,” Or when @ElizabethBanks tweets, “Oh no, #Duke! They’re talkin about the loss all the way over here in Germany. #MarchSadness,” from the Hunger Games press tour, it is obvious that this kind of news transcends just sports fans and is universally pop-culture worthy.
And for me personally, the sports news heard ’round the world hits even closer to home. You see, my brother went to Duke while my brother-in-law went to Lehigh. I just so happened to be with my brother-in-law on selection Sunday last week and when he saw the match up come across the television, he just kind laughed it off . I mean even as a proud alum, I think he knew it was a long shot. Well, looks like he is having the last laugh– because even though Lehigh lost last night, the real victory has already happened from my brother-in-law’s perspective. I mean, let’s face it, he’s got the greatest gift of all–family bragging rights (for at least a year, if not for years to come). Because something tells me there will be a lot of “remember when Lehigh beat Duke is the first round of March madness…” happening in the future. Luckily, it will all be in good fun.
As for me, I will choose to echo the tweeted sentiments of my all-time favorite Duke player, @JJReddick: “I still love Duke” (which has been retweeted over 2500 times already). Me too, JJ, me too. So I will allow the haters to hate. I will gracefully endure the text messages received from friends who are anti-Duke. I will hold my head high and know that there is always next year. Because that is what true fans do. They stick by their teams in good games/seasons and bad ones. I have faith Duke will use this to their advantage and come back next season stronger than ever. I still love you guys.
So now, for all those sports fans out there, tell us which controversial college sports team you root for no matter what!
Duke Blue Devils
Penn State Nittany Lions