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'What Duke is meant to be': A glimpse into the ticket line for Countdown to Craziness

The Cameron Crazies waited out for tickets Sunday night to get a seat for Friday's Countdown to Craziness.
The Cameron Crazies waited out for tickets Sunday night to get a seat for Friday's Countdown to Craziness.

Cameron Crazies does not begin to describe the insanity and fervor with which Duke undergraduate students waited in line for tickets to Countdown to Craziness. 

The stakes were high Sunday evening, as this upcoming Friday marks the first time Duke students, faculty members, and families will don their Duke gear to pack into Cameron Indoor Stadium for men's basketball since March 2020. Cameron Crazies look forward to the familiarity of staple events, such as the Blue-White scrimmage, on-court contests and engaging videos, as well as music, games and other festivities.

Unwilling to go without their dorm room comforts, undergraduate students arranged themselves around air mattresses, common room couches, tennis court benches and piles of blankets and pillows. Beginning as early as 9:30 p.m. Sunday evening, students began making their camps in Krzyzewskiville, despite ticket sales not beginning until 6 a.m. Monday morning.

The mist in the chilly air could not damper the excitement in the air as students were abuzz with unfiltered joy at the prospect of getting to return to Cameron. For many students, K-Ville represents their best memories of Duke; for others, it represents the beginning of their Duke experience. 

“This is what Duke is meant to be,” said first-year Reima Bash. “This is how I know I belong here.”

After arriving at 11:30 p.m., believing that they would be some of the first students to arrive, a group of first-year students were shocked to find the line extending past the Wilson Center and already curving back around.

“This is absolutely nuts! I don’t understand how so many people are here already,” first-year student Lauren Allen said. “But this is the Duke college experience everyone’s been talking about. It’ll be a long night, but it’ll be a lot of fun.”

The Cameron Crazies found creative ways to occupy their time. Whether they were studying under the soft glow of sparse lampposts, playing football in between the throng of impatient students, telling complete strangers their lives’ stories or sleeping huddled under mist-soaked blankets, community was being built. Students were united in their universal goal of acquiring the coveted tickets.

Despite numerous reminders from line monitors about the punishment for cutting in line—immediate removal—many students still chose to “save spots” for their friends. Students are hoping for a better system to be implemented for the remainder of the season.

“Everyone started lining up super early and there was no real communication about it; it was all word of mouth. Everyone just flocked to K-Ville with no organization or plan,” said first-year student Caroline Hancock. “There was no accountability for people cutting in line. People who have been sitting here for hours are being cut in line, and that’s not fair.”

The line monitors did their best to keep students updated on the odds of receiving tickets, giving updates roughly every hour. They emphasized that no one was guaranteed a ticket; yet, students continued to hope for the best. Around midnight, line monitors made their way down the rows of dedicated students to deliver bad news: the odds of receiving a ticket would be unlikely, and receiving a ticket in the student section would no longer be a possibility.

Many students expected to secure enough tickets to invite their parents to join them at Countdown to Craziness with Parents' Weekend being Oct. 15-17—they never expected to be unable to receive tickets themselves. Some decided to leave their spots in line, in favor of returning to the warmth of their own beds. However, most decided to push through, hoping that the line monitors’ use of “unlikely” was hyperbolic.

Sleep deprivation hit students hard around 4:45am, as students in various states of sleeping, studying, and aggravation were told the odds of receiving a ticket would be “extremely unlikely.” Morale took a large hit, and many students began contemplating their decision to camp out. “Are the tickets really worth it?” was the question on everyone’s mind. 

Eyelids drooped and shoulders slumped as the line monitors once again made their rounds across the dewy lawn. This time, they announced that everyone should mentally prepare themselves for the possibility that they would not be receiving a ticket.

Unfortunately, many of the Crazies who camped out well before dawn were left ticket-less, and many who were lucky enough to receive tickets suffered a dip in their bank account. Fortunately, there will be many other opportunities this season for students to prove devotion to the team—during hours in which the sun shines.

The festivities will officially begin on Friday at 4 p.m. in Krzyzewskiville, before the doors to Cameron open at 6 p.m. 

Though, judging by the events of Sunday evening, the Countdown to Craziness has already begun.

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