If what many observers of Thursday night’s Duke-NC State game thought they heard was true — former Wolfpack hotshot Julius Hodge was among those suspicious from the cozy confines of his own home — even the nobility of college basketball’s fan sections are sinking fast, in lockstep with many of the power programs they support.
The Cameron Crazies, once the golden standard for organized student cheering sections and the author of many synchronized chants that still pervade the sport today, may have stepped way out of bounds with a cheer directed at State point guard Tyler Lewis. The freshman McDonald’s All-American, who has been grieving the loss of his beloved grandmother, took to the free throw line in the second half of Thursday’s game to a barely distinguishable, but clearly derisive chorus. You be the judge of exactly what was slurred.
This is a classic case of confirmation bias. Duke haters — and there are many — probably hear jeers of “where’s your grandma?” Duke supporters: “past your bedtime,” a tease of Lewis’ boyish appearance.
The most plausible explanation? The vast majority of the Crazies were chanting “past your bedtime,” in accordance with the cheer likely scribbled out on the gameday cheer sheets distributed in the student section. A handful of bumbling idiots, however, chose to take their bleacher bravado to a despicably base level. It would explain why most reporters in press row never made out the grandma taunt — save Nolan Evans — while several Duke students acknowledged a small band of fans near them voicing the filthy insult on their own volition.
Isolated cliques of insensitive, amateurish trolls never define a student body or a fan base. All programs, big or small, have them. A pack, however big, of Duke fans deserving of scarlet letters on Thursday night reemphasized that no fan base, regardless of national perception, is truly pure.
The on-court product in college basketball has visibly degenerated in recent years. Evidently, so too have the character and quality of everyday fans across the country — even those capable of finagling an acceptance letter from a school of Duke’s standing.