Aaron Hanner, a freshman at North Carolina and the son of a Duke graduate, wrote to The Chronicle about why he remains a Duke basketball fan despite attending UNC.
With a mother who was a team manager, I was born into Duke basketball. She witnessed the rise of the Krzyzewski era. She felt the joy of victory with the illustrious team of ‘86, featuring Johnny Dawkins and Jay Bilas spearheading a sweep of the ACC Tournament. She felt the agony of defeat with a heartbreaking, last-minute three-point loss to Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.
She raised her kids well. Even in the (embarrassingly long) time of my life when I couldn’t care less about sports, I still knew Duke was king. We lived and breathed basketball from the first day of the season to the last. There was no hope of sleeping through the hell raised in our living room during games, and God help anyone who walked in our house during the month of March. Verbal altercations with the deluge of indoctrinated Tar Hole fans at school were frequent and ruthless. Jesus came first in our family, but Coach K was a close second.
Despite all this, when college decision time came, I happened to end up at that school eight miles down the road. I know, it’s terrible, but Duke doesn’t have my major and academics come before athletics. When it does come to athletics, though, all bets are off.
I was born a Blue Devil and I’ll be a Blue Devil to the last, “Tar Heel dead” be damned. Seeing those powder-blue argyle-wearing ninnies take the court makes my blood boil. If I see one more person write the word “d00k” and delude themselves into thinking it’s actually funny or clever, I’ll explode. I have never felt a more vindictive joy in my life than standing in a crowd of Carolina fans watching the beating Duke gave their team back in February.
My friends here have learned to accept me in spite of it all, but I still get a steady stream of grief for it. Oh well, I’ve learned to let it slide. Tar Hole fans always have been and always will be a dime a dozen next to the True Blues.
I just wanted y’all to know that you still have a Daniel in the midst of the lion’s den, a proud Blue Devil living smack in the middle of Tar Heel country. Saturday evening’s gonna be rough. The team is getting better. They’re mad as hell. So are the students, and they’re gearing up big time. The Dean Dome will be loud, energized and doing their best to make this potentially the most difficult away game all season. And I want you to take it out of them. I want you to beat them, so, so badly. I may be wearing Carolina blue and playing in the band section, but the little Duke blue fire is still burning in my heart. And it would experience no better vindication than seeing a healthy Ryan Kelly (praise be unto him) and the rest of the boys beating the ever-loving Tar out of the Heels, so to speak. Duke is still king in my book, and y’all have my best wishes. Go to hell Carolina, and rip ‘em up, tear ‘em up, give ‘em hell Duke!