Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rivalry Week

It is no secret that I love Carolina. More than my cat, more than chocolate, more than Target. It is also no secret, that because of this love, I hate Duke so fiercely that it is borderline insanity. And tonight, the two will meet for the first time this basketball season in a national display of their mutual hatred. It is the most famous rivalry in college sports history. It is a rivalry so powerful that even non-alumni feel the need to take sides, at least for this one night.

I read an article once that basically described the Duke/UNC rivalry as a masochistic romance. The two are psychotic in their abuse of one another, but in the end, they love how much it hurts. They are inseparable, permanently welded together by how good it feels to hate so deeply. It's sick, really. But it is also wonderful.

I'm not here to gush about the Tar Heels or to bash the Dookies. I've made it clear how I feel about each. I actually want to pay tribute to this crazy mentality that we both have in common. There are no fans more passionate than those of Carolina and Duke. There is no greater outcome than a win for your team in this game. There are no two schools with greater traditions and history. This rivalry is like the Civil War. Each side is willing to kill their own brother to be the victor. It is something that is unprecedented in the world of college athletics. It is a feeling that cannot be explained, and one that would not exist without both of these schools.

Which is why we need each other. Do I secretly wish that all the gargoyles on that disgusting campus would come to life and eat everyone there? Of course! If I ever saw Coach K out and about, would I seriously contemplate running him over with my car? Yes! But the truth is, if any of those things actually happened, it would take away the best part of being a Carolina fan. And it's the best part of being a Duke fan, too. Without each other we would never have that amazing feeling of beating someone we view equal to Satan. Win or lose, being able to go into a game like the one tonight, not just as a random spectator, but as someone who can say, "That is my team out there," is what we all live for. It is what defines us as Tar Heels or Blue Devils.

Think I'm making this all up? Look at NC State. Poor things. They have been trying so hard for years to make Carolina their rivals. But Carolina repeatedly turns them down. Because Carolina already has a rival. So why does State push so hard to make the games mean so much? Because they want the feeling that Duke has when they play Carolina. They want that feeling of life or death at each game. They want their fans to call home crying when they lose. The University of Maryland has done the same to Duke, resulting in chants of "Not our rivals" from Duke fans. Unfortunately for these schools, they are never going to be more than third wheels on this date. Because Carolina and Duke are soul mates. We love to hate each other, especially on this day each year when we can show it off to the entire nation.

9 p.m. on CBS. Go Heels!

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