Conserving the craziness

I remember my first Duke basketball game.

We kept it mellow the Friday night before, checking online to see when the buses would begin running the next day. And when our alarms went off at 8:15 the next morning, we jumped out of bed eager to experience what we had been waiting for since President Brodhead first greeted us during orientation week: a real, live Duke basketball game.

The C-1 was filled up by about 35 remarkably-awake freshmen toting chemistry and economics textbooks, carrying backpacks full of supplies—both scholarly and otherwise. We set up camp on the concrete K-Ville sidewalk, too excited—and cold—to do anything but shiver in the shadow of our new Mecca.

We discovered that two people had beaten us to the front of the line, both freshmen who had decided to spend the night in the great outdoors—a decision lauded as “totally hardcore” by other new Crazies—and there were no upperclassmen there. And every 20 minutes as the bus arrived on West with another load, the absence became more pronounced.

“Where is everybody,” we wondered. “I thought the Cameron Crazies camped out for all the games!”

Finally, around 10:30 a.m., a couple guys with their dorm room chairs wandered over from Craven and settled down in the back. The day went on, and more and more West campus residents sauntered over to join the growing crowd, and by game time, the line stretched all the way to the intramural gym. This process repeated itself, more or less, throughout the fall semester.

But eventually I learned why the Crazies line up as they do: It’s a long, long season. So pace yourselves, freshmen. Four months and 17 home games is a much larger commitment than it seems now.

You may think you’ll have the energy and willingness to sit out in the rain and sleet for 10 hours before every home game, but I can all but guarantee that at some point, you’ll wish you hadn’t spent your whole Tuesday shivering under a tarp to see Duke beat Gardner-Webb by 45.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t support the men’s basketball team, but a little selectivity never hurt anyone. Sure, being too far from the court to heckle the Charlotte player who just airballed a free throw is a shame, but someone else will make that joke, I promise.

I’m not saying you should be spending more time studying either—mostly because it would wreck the curve for me—but if you want to make it through the season alive, keep a balance. Still show up to that Gardner-Webb game, but instead of waiting all day for the front row, sleep through the morning.Then swing over to Cameron half an hour before tipoff and slide into the seventh row.

Once the final stretch of ACC slate starts, you’ll be glad you did. By that point, games will be more competitive, exciting and demanding of true Cameron Craziness.

But if you insist on standing in the front row for every game, as some of you surely will, invest in aspirin, Mucinex and a nice rain jacket. If not, these next four months will feel like an eternity.


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