I

Before coming to Duke, I never thought I would have anything to do with basketball. Even after committing to Duke and knowing that Duke is famous for its basketball team, I still did not think it would play any major role in my student life, which was only supposed to be about academics, friends, internships, clubs and maybe a few parties. 

In fact, I was so ignorant of Duke basketball culture that at the beginning of my first semester, when my friend got an opportunity to see the team practice and proudly showed me a picture of Grayson Allen, I asked (innocently but unforgivably, according to my friends), “Who’s that?” Then, under the pressure of a series of explosive reproach (“OMG how can you not know Grayson Allen!”), I tried to Google him and typed in “Grason Allen.” Of course, this act only aggressively intensified the fire as my friend now yelled at me, “OMGGGG you even spelled his name wrong! How could you?!!!!”

At the time, I simply thought: Duke basketball is Duke basketball. Being a Duke student is being a Duke student. The two are separate from one another. It would not be long before I found out how wrong and naïve I was.

II

After attending five basketball games last semester, I became deeply captivated and was turned into a huge Cameron Crazie. Thanks to the advertising by my friends, now everybody who knows me also knows that Grayson Allen is my favorite player on the team. We would still bring up the “Grason Allen” joke sometimes, and I admit that it is funny

While “When’s the next basketball game?” and “Who has run into which player, where, on which campus?” have occupied a big portion of our daily conversations, tenting entered as a prospective plan for the spring semester.

First we had to rationalize why we wanted to tent, and the reasons inevitably fell into the two clichés: a love for Duke basketball and the potential bonding experience.

Yes, I love Duke basketball now. I don’t know exactly what it is – perhaps the constant action and excitement in a game; the unity of the entire crowd in Cameron singing to the same song, shouting the same phrase and repeating the same gestures; or the pride associated with having one of the best teams in the nation that is winning practically all the games (or most of them, at least).

And everybody who has tented before told me that tenting strengthens friendships. People who tent together would become very close, they said. Given that a large part of college is about meeting people and making friends, this aspect of tenting definitely sounded very appealing.

Perhaps there is one more reason: We don’t want to miss out on this major Duke tradition. We want to brag to our friends back home and our future kids about this fun college experience that  transformed into an unforgettable memory. We want to be able to recount to fellow Duke students the story of fun, sleepless nights and rant about miserable, sleepless nights. Plus, having tented is the only legitimate proof of having gone to Duke, isn’t it?

III

When I went home for winter break, all of my friends wondered how I became so interested in basketball. And when I meticulously explained to them the rules of tenting, they all looked at me with disbelief, assuming the tradition must earn me at least a season pass. When I shook my head “no” and replied that this was all for just one game, they cried louder: “This is ridiculous! Your school is crazy!”

Their surprise and the three weeks of being away from basketball cooled down my mind and got me thinking a bit. Although, for a large portion of the student body, tenting seems only natural, this whole thing might actually be crazy and even stupid. But isn’t part of college and adolescence in general about doing some crazy and stupid things? But do I really want to live in a tent for more than a month instead of my heated, comfy dorm, paid for by my parents? But I do want to see the game. What if we lost? But it should be fun and worth it anyway. But is it actually fun and worth it, or are people just saying that to make themselves feel better when it’s not that fun or worth it?

IV

There was no time left to deliberate over everything because we had to start immediately after the spring semester began. Choosing what kind of tenting we want to do, contacting people we know, putting together a group…someone dropped…contacting more people, deciding who is going to get the tent and pallets, gathering everyone’s schedule…another person dropped…another joined…

At the same time, I was busy mentally and physically preparing myself, telling myself that it was going to be fun and worth it while making sure that I had my sleeping bag and blankets.

Everyone and everything were set. We registered. There was no going back.

V

Update in the GroupMe: Because K-Ville has reached maximum capacity, our group has been placed onto the waitlist at number 14.

I don’t know if I feel more disappointed or relieved.