Every year, hundreds of hardcore Duke basketball fans camp out for weeks in the middle of winter in front of Cameron Indoor Stadium for the chance to watch the Duke-UNC basketball game live. This year, with no fans in attendance for the game, they’ll have to made do with an online alternative.
The pandemic hasn’t prevented Duke Athletics and student leaders from putting together an experience for Cameron Crazies through a virtual Krzyzewskiville tenting interface. Run through the Bleachr app, the virtual tenting platform allows students to form “tents” of up to ten people each in order to compete in challenges and virtual tent checks and accumulate points.
Head Line Monitor Hope Morales, a senior, said that there are about 40 tents and 300 tents signed up this year, as compared to around 100 total tents in a normal year.
Normally, the reward for enduring weeks of tenting is getting into the big game, but since that’s no longer possible this year, tenting administrators have come up with other incentives. The app offers possible prizes like “a catered watch party for both UNC games, signed jerseys [and] tickets to basketball experiences for future seasons” for tents that top the points leaderboards at the end of tenting.
The Athletics Department is still working out the details, Morales said, but the tent with the most points will get tickets to one of the ACC games in Cameron next season.
While tenting typically ends on the day of the Duke-UNC game, this year, administrators made the decision to keep Virtual K-Ville open until the end of the basketball season. To make up for the fact that they can’t offer the same payoff as regular tenting, Morales said, “we thought it would be best to keep this community alive throughout the entire season and just offer different rewards throughout.”
Morales added that the line monitors and Athletics Department hope to eventually get many more students involved in tenting than in normal years, adding that “virtual tenting experience is accessible to a much broader demographic” and “there is no limit to the amount of tents that can register.”
In order to let students gather with their teams while staying within COVID-19 protocols, K-Ville administration has decreased the maximum number of students in one tent to 10, the maximum number of people who can be at a student-hosted event under Duke’s rules, and publishing a statement within the app reminding participants of the importance of following safety guidelines..
“Any and all misconduct in terms of the Duke Compact will be penalized,” Morales said.
So far, four different tent checks have been added to the app for students to complete. Points are awarded to each tent for completing the challenges, and additional points are added for tents who do exceptionally well.
The first check was registering the tents, including adding a roster, profile image and banner for each team. The second check consisted of coming up with a unique team cheer. Extra points were awarded for teams with the most spirit.
First-year Andrew McCallum said the second check was his favorite.
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“My group spent probably half an hour choreographing… Even after all that, I’m not sure we looked all that coordinated,” he said.
The third check was a round of five trivia questions about current and former Duke basketball players. Extra points were given for correct answers and for the first tent to answer correctly.
Lindsey Weyant, a first-year, said that this challenge was their favorite, because “it wasn’t just participation, it actually mattered whether we were wrong or right”.
First year Emma Williams shared the same sentiment, adding that this challenge “showed who the real fans were.”
The fourth check involved sending in a picture with team members’ “Craziest Gameday Outfits”, with extra points awarded to the team with the best outfits. The fifth check in, yet to be completed, asks tenters to submit “dirt” on UNC players, to “keep this Cameron tradition alive.”
Many students participating in virtual K-Ville noted that they are looking for the unique sense of spirit that tenting fosters.
McCallum said he chose to virtually tent because “it looked like… a great way to come together as a school”.
“I hope that by the end of this I feel like I was part of the incredible school spirit here at Duke,” he said.