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Column: Calling on all Crazies

For those that missed ESPN's latest ratings ploy, last week was "Student Spirit Week" on the ESPN family of networks. College basketball games from some of the loudest and wildest arenas in the country were broadcasted all week long, and an emphasis was placed on the student sections that have helped make those arenas famous.

Of course Cameron Indoor was featured. You can't have a conversation about the best college basketball venues without including it.

But I think it's about time we all start asking ourselves if we really deserve that praise or whether the reputation of the Cameron Crazies of five or 10 or even 15 years ago are still fooling the nation into thinking we're something we're not.

Don't get me wrong, I've been to a lot of venues over the past four years and when Cameron is rocking, I haven't seen a student section that can compete.

But I'm talking about games against teams other than North Carolina, when as the sixth man the Crazies used to consistently get in a player's head and take him out of the game during warm-ups. And when Duke students were clever, creative and innovative when it came to ways of distracting their opponents.

Those occurrences, I'm afraid to say it, are becoming few and far between.

Throughout the course of this season, the Cameron Crazies-particularly the undergraduates-have consistently failed to even fill up the student section. Large sections in all corners of the student section have been empty at tip-off.

I attributed the poor attendance at the end of last semester to students' workload leading up to finals week. Maybe last week it had to do with rush. But I'm afraid it's more serious than that.

The students at Duke don't have the same passion to paint their chests blue and make fools out of themselves in support of their team as past generations.

Sure K-Ville still filled up with tents before the second semester officially began, but I think that has more to do with the fact that tenting is the "thing to do" rather than because the tenters are all passionate fans. If they were, then they'd all be coming to games, and maybe we wouldn't have this problem in the first place.

Line monitors already decided to turn one wristband game into a walkup game last semester because they had not been giving out enough wristbands to make it worthwhile. It wasn't that many seasons ago when there frequently would be no wristbands left to give out.

There's hardly been a struggle to find a great spot in the bleachers 10 minutes before game time this year. As recently as four seasons ago, you were taking a gamble if you arrived minutes before tip off and even expected to get in.

And there used to be an outcry when undergraduate seats were forfeited to graduate students because the undergrads hadn't filled up their section. Now the graduates are regularly moving over without any discussion.

It might not be long until the Athletic Department decides to sell tickets to the public at game time to fill the gaps and make some extra cash. I can assure you, there are plenty of Duke fans that would die to see even a single game in Cameron. We, as students, have the privilege of seeing them for free for four years.

Maybe the type of students Duke is admitting is the reason for the change, and therefore a return to what made the Crazies famous is unlikely.

But I refuse to accept that nothing can be done. It all starts with getting people to games, however.

Coach K recently said, "We are not that Cameron [anymore]."

Maybe we're not, but we don't have to be. We don't have to mimic the Crazies of years ago. Instead, let's just be innovative and reestablish ourselves as the student section every school aspires to be. Because during "Student Spirit Week," we were far from it.


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