Friday, March 01, 2013


Not the Plumlee-McAdoo matchup.
Also, biast.
A little while back, I wrote a piece about attending a Duke-Carolina basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was not my first college basketball game, but it was my first Battle of the Blues, and it was my first trip to Cameron.

By our standards, it got a lot of hits. Some of those came courtesy of a link posted on reddit by a friend of the blog, and with that came...commentary. Sad, angry commentary, especially from one dude (and really, you'd expect a self-proclaimed grad student in statistics to be able to construct a better argument) who dismissed the whole thing out of hand because (and I'm paraphrasing here):

1) He claimed I made the notion of "cheat sheets" for cheers up, because he'd never seen one.
2) The listed stats for Mason Plumlee and James Michael McAdoo make their tussle look like less of a physical mismatch than it was.
3) Where he sits, people in the stands don't behave the way I said they did.
4) I implied that "the Cameron Crazies" and "the student section" were the same thing, instead of explicitly stating so.

To which I can only respond:

1) They do exist, as evidenced by every other commenter in that thread.
2) The listed heights and weights for Plumlee and McAdoo might be close, but anyone who's ever paid attention to sports knows you can trust the "official" stats like you can trust Pravda's latest report on a UFO landing in Murmansk.
3) How this guy - who claimed to be sitting in the grad student section - knows what the folks were doing in the nosebleed seats better than someone who was sitting there does is beyond me. I'd also like to introduce him to the woman who told my father "If you want to watch the game, go downstairs", presumably to the grad student section where people were sitting down.
4) My bad. Next time I'll be clearer.

Now as amusing as it is to see someone two steps away from recording a tearful YouTube video demanding "YOU LEAVE PLUMLEE ALONE!", what's really interesting there is the perceived need to defend Duke and Cameron against even the slightest hint of disapproval. To claim prejudice (spelled interestingly there) against poor, oppressed Duke. To suggest that anyone not already intimately familiar with all the customs and rituals shouldn't be going to a game there.

Now, if you read the piece, you will come across the tidbit that as a Boston College (GS of A&S '94 With Distinction, ThankYouVeryMuch) alum, I have no dog in the Duke-Carolina fight. I certainly didn't come in rooting for anything other than a good game, and I tried to write about what I saw and experienced there. A lot of folks, including some Duke alums I know, said nice things about the piece, and one even bothered to take time to teach me one of the chants. 

But still, there's "this guy was prejudice and misinformed about his visit" presumably because I should have fudged my reporting of the Plumlee-McAdoo tussle to seem like more of a fair fight. (Trust me. It wasn't. Put these two next to each other and it's like Bert and Herry Monster)  There's the need to take any less-than-glowing words about the beloved team as a personal insult, and to react accordingly. Sometimes it's by posting kvetches on reddit. Sometimes it's by claiming earth-shattering bias at the tiniest perceived slight. And sometimes it's just being a jackass to anyone who doesn't love your team as much as you do.

Side note: "Biased", of course, is not to be confused with "biast", which is also commonly referenced but which actually refers to the unique lower back anatomy of the Marvel comics supervillain Bi-Beast, who once notably fought the Hulk atop the SHIELD helicarrier. It should also not be confused with "baised", which is probably some sort of cooking technique, and not to be confused with wrestling legend Ted DeBiase. But I digress.

Here's something very simple: if you reflexively take every less-than-absolutely-adoring word written about your favorite team and decide that it is evidence of "bias" or "prejudice", you need help. If you cannot accept the slightest possibility that someone might have a well-reasoned or observed viewpoint that runs contrary to yours without immediately jumping to the assumption that they have an ulterior motive, then you're out in "the US is using a weather station in Alaska to threaten Bob Woodward" territory. The difference is in details, not in approach. 

So if you find yourself doing this - if your first reaction to a piece that includes your favorite team without consisting exclusively of hosannas of praise, you need to take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and ask yourself, "Do these guys, many of whom will make more money by age 25 than I will in my life and none of whom will ever know my name, really need me to defend them? "

Also, "Why am I looking in the mirror and talking to myself."

If you're really a fan, you're in for all of it - the good, the bad, and the what-can-get-better. To not want to hear anything critical is the sports fan equivalent of eating only candy; nothing that tastes bad, sure, but you're sure as hell gonna be surprised when that vitamin B deficiency kicks in. So eat your vegetables. Calm the hell down. And while you're at it, pick up your cheat sheet. It's real. I promise.

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