The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday June 10th

Duke Game Unites UNC Campus

What an amazing chance for all of Carolina to come together. There we all were, filling the Smith Center, the bars on Franklin Street and the residence hall rooms fortunately furnished with big-screen televisions. I cannot help but remark on the strength with which this basketball game unites so many different people.

Not since the Vietnam War have so many Heels been mobilized around a struggle like this contest between the troops of coaches Doherty and Krzyzewski.

Most importantly, it was every senior's capstone experience. We've all been going to school here for four years, pining for a chance to earn those tickets. Because of our class status, we surely deserved to be in those bleachers more than anyone else, to participate directly in the culmination of our involvement in this community.

I sat sipping my Coca-Cola and watched the teams and crowd prepare for battle. The audience seemed fairly normal. There were lots of middle-aged, white, business-type alumni in sweater vests with their wives and beer-drinking buddies down by the court. The student section also appeared per form, a unified mass in standard uniform: "Doherty's Disciples."

I was somewhat puzzled, however, as to how a sky-blue piece of apparel could not include our beloved swoosh, the symbol of UNC athletics.

From the tip off, the players amazed me. I mean, I'd seen Brendan Haywood and Julius Peppers around campus, but I'd never actually been able to talk to them, or even make eye contact. I had no idea B could send one back to the third row like that or that Peps could throw down hard enough to get thousands of fans on their feet yelling. These guys are already deserving of all the money they're going to get later in life! And you know, I've never seen one Carolina guy cry in my four years here, and the whole row in front of me was sobbing excitedly over Forte's sweet touch.

All the television timeouts, though, did get frustrating. But those of us at the game were lucky enough to have better entertainment than 30-second messages from a bunch of corporations trying to sell us stuff. At least we got to see our Carolina cheerleaders and the dance squad. My friend Peter, mouth hung wide, exclaimed, "Wow! You could do a load of laundry on that girl's stomach!" It was then that I noticed that my popcorn was a little too buttery for my taste. I put it down on the floor at my feet -- somebody gets paid to pick it up.

It was also really great to see the big male cheerleaders supporting the girls as they swooshed through the air and collapsed in their arms. We've come a long way since the days when only girls were allowed to be cheerleaders.

But even the cheerleaders got old after a few minutes, and I got antsy to see the real action again. Our men soon retook the court, ready to go. They had rested a bit and looked so impressive in their baggy Carolina uniforms and matching Nike shoes. I started to think to myself, "That's some good-looking gear they've got on! I wonder if the people who made the UNC uniforms were lined up outside the factory doors, hoping to be able to sew 'Haywood' onto a jersey? I would be!"

The ref blew the whistle, and the battle was on again. You know, I was a little surprised, though, when there weren't more fouls called -- especially on Duke. At one point, it just seemed like whatever team could plow into the other harder would be the one who ended up ahead. But I really loved all those great steals! And our Carolina fans were so supportive -- everyone cheering and getting riled up to taunt our rival.

Then all of a sudden something hit me. I thought, "Not only is this the most exciting experience of our Carolina careers, but the University is going to get so much good publicity from this! I mean, gazillions of young, intelligent students are going to see this and want to come to school here! It's like two hours of prime-time commercials for UNC, worth billions, and all for free! And it gives lots of kids good upstanding role models! I mean, our players are clean-cut and respectable -- they're not like Allen Iverson or someone."

I almost kicked myself! I missed some of the game while I was thinking about all that.

That's OK, though. We all know how the game really ended: Nike, Coca-Cola and all the other corporations got their money; the University got its plug; the women were pushed off to the side, lending support and decoration for the men who, of course, did the "real" work, duking it out in a war for power and dominance. All the while, we the fans enthusiastically and reverently lent legitimacy. We watched, cheered, and tossed our popcorn in unison. We came together happily, intoxicated by this dose of soma, much to the delight of the Big Boys at the top.

Linda Chupkowski will not respond to angry, attacking e-mails. If you have any honest, constructive critiques of her column, e-mail her at

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