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Thursday, April 24, 2003
Duke: Hate the dynasty

By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

The definition of "sports dynasty" is "villains who win." Win enough, and rise to the level of "Teams We Love to Hate."

Page 2's villains
  • Ralph Wiley on John Thompson
  • Bill Simmons on Bill Laimbeer
  • Brian Murphy on Tommy Lasorda
  • Eric Neel on Reggie Jackson
  • Patrick Hruby on fans
  • Dan Shanoff on Duke hoops
  • Jason Whitlock on Joel Smeenge
  • Chris McKendry on Tonya Harding
  • Tim Keown on bad influence
  • A scourge on sports, ruining competition -- yet TWLTH create a quasi-equilibrium within the rooting interest, balancing a monopoly on success against a plurality of loathing. For each everyone-likes-a-winner fan (aka bandwagon-rider), 10 fans emerge to root specifically against them.

    This is how TWLTH become national phenomena -- the haters follow in far greater numbers than the adorers, if only to gripe, boo and -- on the rare, glorious occasion -- watch them lose. TV programmers don't care if you tune in to cheer or jeer. The result is that these teams end up as the dominant markers on the sports landscape.

    As the cycle spirals out of control, the result is the New York Yankees ... the Dallas Cowboys ... Notre Dame: Heroes to many, villains to many more.

    Duke is a relatively recent addition to this TWLTH Pantheon, but to me, the most problematic:

  • They get the best recruits.
  • Their student-section is the most clever.
  • They are on TV more than anyone else.
  • The program is squeaky clean (we think).
  • They always get the calls from refs.
  • They win and win and win.

    Doesn't it just make you sick?

    Firmly established as a TWLTH, villainous Duke will continue to steamroll everyone in its path. But with every undeserved early-season No. 1 ranking, ridiculous charging call and timely 3-pointer, the legion of anti-Dukies grows.

    The irony is that because the villains make for such compelling rooting, we dynasty-haters will be the ones to extend their reign.

    Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning.