The Ethics of Crazieness: A Follow-Up

I can’t resist writing a quick follow-up to the “How Crazie is too Crazy?” piece from earlier this week. If you follow college sports will know that the previous post came shortly before the storied Duke-UNC rivalry game. The game did not disappoint (especially for the Duke fans), as the Blue Devils made an historic comeback from a 14-point deficit at halftime to win by a final score of 79-73. Given the nature of the last post on “fan ethics” during sporting events, I think this game is a great case study of what should and shouldn’t be acceptable behavior for sporting fans.

Throughout Duke’s second-half surge, ESPN’s commentators’ voices could barely be heard over the broadcast as the Cameron Crazies filled the stadium with cheers. At one point, Dick Vitale called Cameron “electric” and after the game Coach K and Duke players all gave credit to the Crazies for motivating them. It was the first time Duke had overcome a deficit of 14 points to win since 1959. In rivalries like this, the crowd can play an important role. And surely that is what makes college sports so attractive to spectators. But should we allow more “extreme” measures from fans (obscene chants, gestures, etc) to be permitted in these cases? Does the fan’s passion for their team and game allow them to chant with a free conscience “Go to Hell Carolina, Go to Hell!” ad infinitum? (Ed. note for Carolina fans: that means “again and again.”) Interestingly, at Duke this is not only an acceptable chant, but is also frequently worn on t-shirts and so commonplace it’s simply abbreviated as “GTHC.”

To avoid rehashing the last post, I’ve decided to make three lists based on the latest game against UNC. Most of the things on the list can apply to any home game, but I’m using this particularly heated rivalry as a case study of sorts.

The “innocuous cheering” list which nearly any sports fan would condone as 100% within the realm of sportsmanship; the “borderline cheering,” made up of the gray area between being a good fan and violating an ethical boundary; and the “dubious cheering,” or just plain “jeering,” list, made up of actions nearly everyone (arguably even those of us performing the chats) know aren’t quite right. Obviously, this is only a personal opinion; and if you disagree with where I’ve put what, please feel free to comment. It’s up for debate!

Innocuous:

  1. The ever-present, always loud “Let’s Go Duke!” Cheer, or its equivalent (“Here we Go Devils!”, “Go Devils go!”)
  2. Jumping up and down and screaming while the opposing team has the ball. As in all sports cheering, the tactic is meant to distract the other team when they have the ball but has no mean intentions. This constant noise is one of the things that makes Cameron one of the hardest home courts to play on.
  3. Cheering when Duke makes a 3-pointer or Dunk.
  4. Body paint and face paint in support of Duke’s team colors.
  5. The “hex”. When an opposing team player fouls out, the Crazies are known to “hex” them by waving their hand and cheering until they sit and then yelling “See you!”.

Borderline:

  1. The Duke fight song with the student modified lyrics, “Carolina go to Hell! EAT SHIT!” sung the loudest (particularly during this game).
  2. The classic “Bullshit” chant following what the fans believe to be a poor call by an official
  3. Normally, I would put this clearly on the “innocuous” list, but a comment on the blogosphere about the physical presence of the Crazies made me bump it down. When the opposing team has the ball, in addition to cheering, the Crazies wave their hands at them while in-bounding. The students never touch the players, but the visual is compelling and the proximity of the students to the court is meant to intimidate opposing players. Some find this physical presence wrong, but as the students do not intend to physical harm the players I find it hard to categorize as “over the line.”
  4. When opposing team’s players are introduced the students “greet” them by chanting “Hi (insert name!)”. Although this alone I would find hard to object to, it has been tradition in years past to add “you suck!”, though in recent years Coach K has emphatically asked students to refrain from this (a cheer, notably, imported from the Maryland fan base).

Jeering:

  1. At one point a student was identified by a referee for attempting to have thrown something at Harrison Barnes, one of UNC’s top players.

Overall, however, I would say that more than anything the Crazies cheer for Duke rather than directing nasty things against UNC or their opponent. Sure, they want to get under the skin of the team they’re playing, but I would argue that the nature of the adversarial institution of sports allows for most of the Crazies type of behavior. Although, I must admit I am a bit biased as Cameron Crazy myself.

Judge for yourself based on this clip, taken from inside the student section: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta09JvSoIsU

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5 responses to “The Ethics of Crazieness: A Follow-Up

  1. Pingback: Adversarial Ethics and the Sports Fan: How Crazy is too Crazie? | Ethics for Adversaries

  2. As a Cameron Crazie, I believe that the purpose of playing in a home court is so that the home fans can give ‘hell’ to the visiting team by providing a ‘sixth man’. This forces the visiting players to develop a higher caliber (by obviously not managing to get offended from all the cheering) and stamina to play well in a hostile environment. Of course this has to be done in an acceptable manner. However, I would not classify as ‘borderline’ the physical presence of the Cameron Crazies…their physical presence has to be felt (or so I think). Just standing in the student section and doing nothing except watching actually discourages the home team; the home players need to feel the fans’ presence and support. As long as this is done without touching the players or impairing their visibility using light reflectors, then there is nothing borderline about it.

  3. I too am a Blue Devil. I enjoy Cameron Craziness, and I agree it is our “sixth man” in the court, which poses a question: is it fair to have six players against five? Of course, technically, we are not breaking any rules. However, knowing the critical role that Cameron Craziness play in our home games, I think we are breaking some ethical rules, if not legal. We don’t touch the opponents physically, but we distract them.

  4. Pingback: “Tim Duncan Urges All-Stars To Use Inside Voice During Game” | Ethics for Adversaries

  5. That’s definitely a valid point Matiok. But I would say that isn’t it inherent to sports competition that playing at another team’s home court will be loud and distracting? I’m not sure I’m totally convinced that there’s something unethical about that. I think we have to allow for fans to somehow be brought into the fold of deliberately adversarial institutions like sports.

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