I remember when it all started.
March 28, 1992. I was eight years old: Duke’s down 103-102 with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Grant Hill throws the most impossibly perfect pass ever. Christian Laettner catches it, he fakes left then elevates right. Turnaround jumper. All bottoms.
The game is undoubtedly the best regional final ever. Heck, it’s the only imaginable reason Laettner was the only college player selected to the first Dream Team over Chris Webber and Shaquille O’Neal.
That’s where it all began, the disgust, the disdain, the borderline hatred.
I couldn’t stand Duke Basketball. I Couldn’t stand Coach K. They represented the establishment.
It eventually morphed into a distaste for the entire university and eventually into a dislike for most majority institutions of higher education. That’s definitely the reason I enrolled at an HBCU.
But truth be told, I really couldn’t qualify the reasons why I felt the way I did.
I still feel the same way now. But now I’m certain as death and taxes as to why.
Just look at how the Dukies have handled the alleged rape of a coed of North Carolina Central University, involving 45 members of its 46-member lacrosse team at a party last month.
It took days for administration to suspend the team.
No one has been charged.
But no one has gone on record to profess the team’s innocence either.
Instead, the team’s captains, who aren’t choirboys by any stretch of the imagination (just peep their history of disorderly conduct), have released “statements” through the high-class attorneys they’ve retained.
In Durham, N.C., a town as divided by the haves and have-nots as any in America, Duke is King Cotton, the biggest employer and philanthropist in town.
Too much fighting the power would go against the principle law of utilitarianism – achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Entitlement and exclusion are two of the biggest benefits of being a member of the establishment. Duke has gotten away with delinquency (crime) in Bull City for so long they feel they don’t have to defend, or justify their actions.
Why should they?
The Blue Devils are just starting to act as if this alleged rape is an issue, canceling practices and the rest of the season only after head coach Mike Pressler resigned and authorities found a “vile” e-mail on a player’s computer boasting of “killing the b—-s as soon as they walk in,” sent out just hours after the alleged incident occurred.
Pending DNA results could confirm the worst fears of some and what others have known all along.
I just hope they prove what I thought at eight years old wrong. Because, right now, I’m beyond that Anne Frank stuff – believing that, in spite of everything, people are still good at heart. At least, that is, when it comes to Duke.
Nick Birdsong is a senior newspaper journalism student from Tampa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.