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Game day at Duke when you don’t like basketball

<p>Jack White and Javin DeLaurier are both returning as captains this season.</p>

Jack White and Javin DeLaurier are both returning as captains this season.

As you no doubt realize, yesterday at Duke was a day mostly dedicated to preparing for and then watching the Duke v.s. UNC men’s basketball game. I have the dubious distinction of being one of the very few undergraduates at Duke who has never attended an athletic event, nor watched a full game on television. Basketball is unavoidable here, but I certainly do try.

My seventh grade gym teacher once asked me if my dad at least watches sports on TV, to which I responded no, we don’t have cable. My lack of interest in sports has been a running theme in my life since I was a kid. I grew up in a small town just south of Chapel Hill, so this rivalry has always been in my peripheral vision. Now I live off campus, don’t own a TV, and my interest in basketball has further waned. I know. I’m sorry. I understand this is important to you.

9 a.m.: I know it is game day because Twitter says it is, and also because I asked my friend to get dinner tonight a few days ago and she laughed at me. I have a novelty gay pride t-shirt that looks almost like Duke spirit wear but replaces the “U” in “DUKE” with a “Y,” but I choose not to wear it today since I have work in the afternoon. I’m probably making a stew tonight, so I start soaking some dried chickpeas as I brew my coffee.

11:45 a.m.: I have a class about Foucault. No one talks about basketball, but a classmate asks if I have plans for the game afterward. I do not.

3:05 p.m.: I have another class. Everyone is running late; we wonder if it’s because of the game. I understand that the game is not until the evening, but I also see that many people are changing their profile pictures on Facebook to photos of themselves covered in blue paint, which suggests that preparations of some kind have already begun. 

5:00 p.m.: At work, some of the middle school students are excited to watch the game on TV later. The UNC v.s. Duke v.s. N.C. State rivalry is something we talk about a lot, partially as a hook to get the kids more interested in college. A dedicated handful of students have spent two summers trying to teach me how to play basketball, with limited success. One of them asks me, “Ms. Frances, are you going to the game?” 

I explain that no, you have to camp out for a month at Duke to get tickets to the game and Ms. Frances pays good money for her rent. We talk about how some of the tickets cost over $3,000. I offer that I think it’s wrong for student athletes not to get paid when the university makes so much money off their labor.

“It’s college basketball, Ms. Frances,” one sixth-grader informs me. “It’s not that serious.”

6:30 p.m.: I am catching up on The Bachelor, a show I watch religiously. I include this embarrassing detail just because I don’t want to imply that I think not liking basketball makes me any less frivolous or less exploitative a consumer than anyone else. I watch one of the women cry to the camera, and I also cry. I understand being emotionally invested in an ethically questionable game that has evolved into an incredibly lucrative industry, I think.

9:17 p.m.: I am reading in my apartment. My friend from high school who goes to N.C. State sends me a screenshot of a text from his mom asking if I am at the game, and telling him to tell me that Obama is there. 

A few days ago another friend from growing up, a huge UNC fan and current UNC student, texted me to ask how I’m going to sneak him into Cameron. I remind him that I haven’t actually been to a game myself, to which he responds, “Frances what!?! You’re killing me. But I understand. We were not raised to camp out.”

We were not.

9:25 p.m.: The Chronicle office is having pizza delivered at 9:30 and I don’t have food points, so I plan to arrive exactly at that time. During my drive to West Campus, the sky is unnaturally light. It must be for the game, I think to myself, before remembering that basketball is played indoors.

9:30 p.m.: I’m walking across Abele quad to the office. There are exactly three security guards and two students outside, but I realize the students are actually two Chronicle staffers walking to pick up the pizza.

9:37 p.m.: I am in the office. I am watching the game. The game is happening, except the clock keeps turning on and off. Men are running back and forth. I am actually a little invested in the result of the game because I know two of the players a little bit from work, but it’s still not very interesting because the game is so zoomed out you can’t see anyone’s expression. I realize I do want them to win because I know they want to win and that they work hard to do so, but it’s hard to track what’s happening. There’s a lot of running back and forth, and the nets aren’t labeled in any way to identify which baskets are for which team.

My colleagues explain what happened with Zion’s shoe before I arrived.

I finish my second slice of pizza.

10:05 p.m.: It’s half-time. There doesn’t appear to be a half-time show like there is with the Super Bowl, so I make my exit. I go home and make a stew.

11:21 p.m.: My best friend who black tented messages me something about how everyone is disappointed. I assume this means Duke lost. I go to sleep.

Frances Beroset is a Trinity senior and the editorial page editor.

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