Which Is Thicker, Blood or Basketball?

Duke flag in yard

This is a big weekend here in North Carolina – it’s ACC basketball tournament time, and during this season, your profession, hobbies, social standing, and heritage are fully eclipsed by a more important designation: your Team.

The season tournaments are nothing to trifle with around here. The parties start revving up on Thursday, to be in full swing – or fistfight – by the time the championship game rolls around. Insulting someone’s ball team is worse than insulting their mama, and the love of your team is equally balanced by your hatred of the others.

I graduated from Duke (in case anybody has trouble reading my hats, shirts, flags, and stickers), where those nights camping out in Krzyzewskiville for game tickets earned me a membership in the exclusive club known as the Cameron Crazies. And my usual policy is to let no one forget it.

Flags on yardBut this week, we’re down at the beach, visiting with a side of the family that has way too many NC State fans for its own good. Here I must tread lightly, lest they kick us out on our fannies. So far, they’ve been gracious, even flying a Duke flag in the back yard (and NC State in the front), but who knows what’ll happen after tournament tipoff – I’m afraid it’s about to get ugly!

To further complicate things, my father-in-law went to UNC Chapel-Hill (and so did I for grad school, but lord, don’t tell anybody, that’ll just make a mess!). The marriage is still new enough to keep everyone polite during basketball games, although the lip service is punctuated by subtle fist pumps and eye rolls.

My husband, a Baylor grad, remains conspicuously neutral – for his own safety – during ACC basketball season, making innocuous comments like, “That was a good shot,” and, “You must be excited for your team.”

They don’t call it “March Madness” for nothing – in restaurants, I never know if my Duke hat is going to get me free drink refills or burnt toast, but we all take our chances. And among family, the ties that bind us serve temporarily as tightropes, where we dance back and forth with jokes and jabs but ultimately (hopefully!) stay friends.

Oh, and by the way, go Duke!


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