Earlier this year, former U.S. Rep. Brad Miller told an Associated Press reporter, “I have said very publicly that if Duke was playing against the Taliban, then I’d have to pull for the Taliban.”
With the election finally over, friends and families can stop arguing over politics and return to stoking a far more beloved partisan divide: UNC vs. Duke. Instead of quoting arcane economic indicators and shifting polling data, fans can cite the simple, unmistakable statistics of basketball to argue their position. Right?
A UNC fan may point out that the Tar Heels have the all-time series lead over the Blue Devils, 132–102. To which a Duke fan could point out that in the 32 years Coach K has been at the helm, the record stands dead even at 37–37. Then there are ACC championships (Duke 29–19) and NCAA titles (UNC 5–4).
OK, so it’s a bit of a draw on the stats and not nearly as fun as assailing the personal character of your opponent, which is how a member of the U.S. Congress ends up cheering on the Taliban.
Or, to cite a different expert, “to legions of otherwise reasonable adults, it is a conflict that surpasses sports; it is locals against outsiders, elitists against populists, even good against evil.”
That’s author and UNC graduate Will Blythe in To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever, and he continues, writing that “the rivalry may be a way of aligning oneself with larger philosophic idealsof choosing teams in lifea tradition of partisanship that reveals the pleasures and even the necessity of hatred.”