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Tales From The Tent: Day 9- The Other Side of Duke Basketball

By: Daniel Published: 12 February 2012 One Comment

My fellow Crazies, after a long wait it is finally that time of year- it’s tenting season. I will be bringing you a step by step account of my tenting experience for the next six weeks to give you an inside look at the most sacred tradition at Duke University- tenting.

9 days down
32 to go
12 first year students
1 dream

A week into tenting and pledging, I was tired, stressed, and computerless, but Duke basketball (and tenting) never stops, so neither do I. Fresh off our first successful tenting game, it was time to turn around and do it all over again. For our second tenting game, we set out to watch the Duke women’s team take on UConn in a marquee matchup of top-5 teams. This was the first of two women’s game we would have to attend for tenting purposes.

I had been to a few women’s game already this year, but for most of my friends it was their first experience with the Duke women’s team. In my spare time I serve as one of the women’s basketball beat writers for The Chronicle, so I had already covered the team quite a bit over the course of the year and was familiar with their players and style. For those of my friends who were seeing the team play for the first time, it was not the best representation of how good this team is. Duke shot 24.6% on the game and only made 17 field goals en route to a 61-45 loss, despite committing just 14 turnovers on the game. The team would rebound to win its next three games.

The student section was a moderate size for the game, but overall it was quite disappointing. For a university with such a rich and deep tradition for basketball, the support that Duke’s women’s team gets is quite atrocious, in my opinion. Earlier this season, Duke’s fanbase caught the national headlines for decreased attendance at men’s basketball games (numbers which were slightly misreported, by the way), but the general apathy among the student body for the women’s team is quite unsettling. Duke is a basketball school, not a men’s basketball school, so why don’t we start acting like it? The team has only averaged 5,320 fans per game this year, while other comprable programs consistently draw bigger crowds. When the Blue Devils traveled on the road to face Kentucky, they played in front of a crowd of 14,508 at Rupp Arena.

The worst part about it is, people here generally understand how good this team is, they just choose to ignore it. This is arguably the best team on campus we’re talking about! This is an issue that the team has not chosen to deal with as well. Head coach Joanne P. McCallie said that one of the things she want to do when she took the job at Duke was to increase attendance, and that has simply not happened. In fact, all of the attention the team got from the student body when Gail Goestenkors was at the helm has essentially been erased. Everyone here says “it’s just women’s basketball”, but this is one of the best teams in the country, and they play against top competition every season. Five teams in the ACC are currently ranked, not to mention Duke squares off with UConn on an annual basis. But for some reason students just don’t get it, and I can’t help but feel like you can chalk it up to anything more than pure sexist bullshit.

But anyway, that’s my diatribe about attendance at women’s basketball games. Once again all 12 of us attended the game, and it was disappointing that Duke did not put forth its best effort against one of the most talented teams in the nation. I’ve had the pleasure of covering this team up close and personal for most of the season, and am confident that they have the tools to make a very deep tournament run this season. They are also some of the nicest athletes I’ve corresponded with during my time as a journalist at Duke. They truly appreciate any support the student body can give them, and I am convinced that they deserve much more than they are getting right now.

I applaud the line monitors for making two women’s games a part of the tenting schedule for the year, but simply putting the games on a schedule is not going to assure students will start to care or even attend the game. The way line monitors check to see if you attended a game is by tracking a student’s ID to make sure they swiped in. Students can just as easily walk through the student entrance and swipe in and then walk straight out the other side as they can stay for the game, and for the women’s games in particular that is what a lot of people do, and it’s simply wrong. If anything, this calls for some sort of a change in the system, but above all I think it’s about time that other students here started to realize that they are lucky enough to have not one, but two incredibly talented basketball teams to watch this season.

As I walked back to my tent and by the time I was inside I was fuming, mostly because of the general lack of respect but also because I just watched a team shoot under 25% from the floor. I thought about everything I had set out to accomplish through tenting, everything that my neighbors in K-Ville were willing to sacrifice to get into one men’s basketball game, and clearly the reward is worth making these sacrifices. But most Duke students aren’t willing to walk up just before game time and take a couple hours out of their lives to watch one of the best women’s teams in the country play? That’s just sad.

Be sure to check out the rest of Dan’s tenting diary! Links galore below:

Pre-tenting: It Begins
Day 1: Welcome to K-Ville
Day 2: From Dusk ‘Til Dawn
Day 4/5: Into The Storm
Day 7: Losing Momentum
Day 9: The Other Side of Duke Basketball
Day 12/13/14: You Win Some, You Lose Some
Day 15: The First Taste
Day 18: Insanity
Day 26: When One Comeback Isn’t Enough
Day 29/30: I’ve Been Dreaming Of A White Tenting
Day 35/36: Taking Out The Trash
Day 40: It Gets Personal
Day 41: One Force, One Fight
Day 42: Go To Hell Carolina

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One Comment »

  • Pete said:

    It is good to see that there is some outrage about the lack of student attendance coming from within the student body. I have been fortunate enough to have been working games at Cameron since 1988, adding women’s basketball to my repertoire about a decade ago, and have been (politely put) disappointed by the lack of support by the team’s classmates. The standard response I get when asking why men’s games but not women’s is along the lines of “We have to study sometime, so there’s not enough time to go to both men’s and women’s games.” C’mon folks – you can’t spare another two-three hours a week?

    By the way, the student attendance when Gail coached here wasn’t that much greater than now. It may have seemed that the student numbers decreased when she left, but actually, attendance as a whole dipped a little when people that just didn’t like a change stopped coming.

    Keep up the good work on the blog!

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