Editor's note: This is part of a series about the Duke men’s basketball walk-up line experience based on a survey conducted by The Chronicle. You can learn more about the methodology and limitations of the survey here. Check out our articles about the lining up experience and the reasons people do not go to games.
One-and-done players like Marvin Bagley III and Zion Williamson have dominated college basketball in recent years, but would Duke students rather have loyal players than flashy visitors to campus? If attendance is dipping, how can Duke remedy it? And what do students think of those gray-haired fans who’ve become mainstays in the student section?
These are just a few of the questions that The Chronicle’s survey of Duke students sought to answer. Below are some big takeaways on what divides, unites and enrages the Cameron Crazies.
First-years favor one-and-done players, but seniors prefer loyalty
Current Duke seniors have cheered for 10 one-and-done players so far, and it seems they’ve had enough. More than 48 percent of surveyed seniors stated that one-and-done players diminish their fan experience as compared to players who stay all four years. Only 21 percent of seniors said that one-and-done players enhanced their fan experience, and the rest said that the young phenoms had no effect on their experience.
Meanwhile, first-year students seem to hold the opposite view. Thirty-seven percent of first-year students chose a favorable view of their classmates, while 32 percent felt one-and-dones have a negative impact.
First-year students live on East Campus alongside their hoops compatriots. Many get to know the players personally, living in the same dorm, eating the same food at Marketplace—the lone freshman eatery—and getting pelted by them in East Campus snowball fights.
The majority of upperclassmen live on West Campus, removed from the team entirely except for irregular visits to class when the team isn’t on the road. Seniors may dislike learning the names of new team members each year and lacking a star in their own class.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
A sizable majority of respondents to the survey care deeply about the players. On a five-point scale with five as the most important factor, 57 percent of all respondents chose four or five to represent how important the team or players were to their attendance. Perhaps the age gap between freshman phenoms and their senior Crazie counterparts makes it hard for upperclassman fans to identify with the team.
Students care about the basketball, not the show
Survey results indicate that Duke students do not care about the quality of concessions or the in-game entertainment, like the halftime show. Over 75 percent of students surveyed said that the concessions options and in-game entertainment do not bother them at all.
Instead, students care about the quality of the game. Fifty-four percent of respondents ranked anticipated competitiveness of a game as a four or five on a five-point scale of importance as a factor in their attendance.
But Duke students do love free stuff
Duke is a top-10 university in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. Blue Devil fans care about competition, not silly distractions like concessions and the halftime show. Duke students shouldn’t be swayed by free stuff, right?
As the continued student patronage of Heavenly Buffaloes, Enzo’s Pizza and Guasaca for club meetings indicate, Duke students will jump at all things free. Just over a majority of respondents to The Chronicle’s survey said they would be more likely to attend a Duke basketball game if there were a giveaway at the game.
Interestingly, this trend was consistent across all demographics measured in the survey. Trinity and Pratt students, seniors and freshmen, and legacy, Early Decision and Regular Decision admits all pronounced themselves approximately equally gullible.
Duke students aren’t aware of general admission student section seating, but those who are don’t like it
Duke doesn’t play every game against North Carolina. As a result, the student section isn’t full for every contest. The staff at Cameron Indoor Stadium fill it out by selling general admission tickets to non-students who get to sit—well, stand—in the student section. Tens or hundreds of alumni and Durhamites receive prime seats, especially during nonconference play and winter break.
However, many Duke students simply are not aware that these general admission seats are sold. Nearly half of the freshmen surveyed indicated they were not aware and 23 percent of seniors surveyed indicated they were not aware of general admission ticket sales. So, many Duke students learn the system throughout their careers, though some clearly never do.
The overwhelming majority of students in all classes who were aware of general admission seating in the student section believe non-undergrads negatively impact the Section 17 experience.