Last Thursday millions of viewers were stuck in their seats in front of the television from 9:00 p.m. until just slightly after eleven in the evening watching the greatest rivalry in sports. Duke and Carolina battled back and forth, and the boys in blue pulled through with a two-point victory in a game that was decided after the final whistle.
Whether or not you were a fan of either team, or if you just got stuck watching the game because your friends refused to leave their room, you had to appreciate what you saw beyond the court. Each and every “Cameron Crazy” (Duke fan) yelled and screamed with every Duke point, rebound, steal, or even fancy dribble in a stadium lacking a single empty seat or coherent conversation.
Venue shift: Ramsey Center Monday evening. Our boys in purple battled the hated Mountaineers of Appalachian State. In what we around here like to call a huge rivalry, I looked around at a stadium that was hardly a third full. We wonder why Boone students laugh when we try to tell them of this bitter rivalry.
While Duke students had to camp out for over a week to obtain an opportunity to get in the raffle to attend their epic battle with Carolina, all we had to do here was find the “big black thing by the football field.” I know we here at Western don’t have the academic reputation of the Blue Devils, but come on, guys.
So, let’s see. Why we were so busy Monday night? No wrestling excuses, guys, they had WWF Raw broadcast from the game immediately afterward.
“Ummmm….I had homework.” Okay, that excuses four of you, guys, but the rest of you haven’t even opened your books this year.
“I was just hanging out, man. I didn’t wanna go all the way down there.” This is Cullowhee, fellas. We get about as many things to come to town as an Arctic iceberg (well, except for that hot shot Titanic one, he’s got us beat by a long shot). I know your couches can feel homey, but there’s 22 other hours in the day.
“Man, Western’s not any good this year.” You see, guys, we only lost by four with an empty arena. Just imagine what kind of emotion the team could have drawn had we filled that coliseum. Instead, you continue to joke about a team whose lack of home success may be just as much your fault as theirs.
Well, I’m going to leave the rest of the excuses alone, but you can just take for granted I have a smartass comment for just about any cockamamie reason you can come up with.
The fact of the matter is that we here at Western Carolina aren’t the biggest school and don’t have the most dominant athletic teams. At the same time, special things happen in true rivalries. Why do you think they say, “Throw out the records when Duke and Carolina go at it”? It’s because players feed off both the history and hatred of such situations.
Hey, remember ‘98? My message to this student body is this: if you want to call our match-ups with Appalachian State authentic rivalry games, come out and see them. I don’t think any of us can imagine the power and intensity that beautiful black building can produce if filled with true fans.
So, if you don’t care about our rivalry or our school, stay at home, watch your TV, drink your beer and leave here in a few years. The next time you start whining about how we never beat our “rival” Mountaineers, however, ask yourself if you’ve ever lost your voice rooting for the good guys in purple and gold.