Tag Archives: Duke

Why do swimmers hate Lane 8?

Jon Scheyer | Duke Blue Devils vs. Long Beach State - (12/29/09)

Jon Scheyer | Duke Blue Devils, 2009

Before I went to college, I was never a big basketball fan (for those who know me now, I’m aware that this is probably surprising). As a result, when I arrived for my freshman year at Duke and began attending a ton of basketball games, I had the opportunity to learn an entire dictionary’s worth of terms for the first time.

One of the phrases that I quickly heard was “playing down.” Even though we were highly ranked and expected to do well later in the season against big-ticket teams like the #2 Texas Longhorns (who we eventually beat by 31 points), I was somewhat surprised by the fact that our margins of victories over early opponents were, quite frankly, not as impressive as I had expected them to be.

“Ugh, we’re playing down again. We always do this,” my friend Leah would say.

It wasn’t intentional. The players probably didn’t want to run up the score, but they also probably didn’t want to make every game against a low-ranked opponent a too-close-for-comfort nail-biter. You would think that, given the large difference in rankings (and presumably in ability levels), the better team should be able to maintain a respectable 15-20 point lead — wide enough that no one had to worry about the outcome, but close enough that it wasn’t rubbing the score in the other team’s faces.

Yet…they didn’t. Most of the time they made sloppy mistakes, missing easy 3-point shots or turning over the ball more times than we could count. The looks of frustration on their faces let us know for sure that this wasn’t anything they were doing on purpose. They weren’t thinking, “OK, this is a no-name team…let’s just not play as well as usual.” They were certainly putting in effort, but they simply couldn’t break past a ceiling that seemed to be hanging far lower than usual, even though their skills were demonstrably better when they played higher-ranked teams. In short, as Leah noted, they were “playing down.

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You can’t put a price on a rivalry game.

This was originally blogged at IonPsych on 3/9/2011 with the title “March Madness: Priceless for Some, Overpriced for Others.” I’ve decided to re-post it from the archives today, in honor of the fact that tonight is the 2nd Duke-Carolina game of the season. You can see the original post here. And, as always, Go Duke!

When I was in college, I slept outside in a tent almost every night during the 2 coldest months of the year.

OK, before you call me crazy, there’s more to the story.

I actually did this for four years in a row.

And all four years, this ‘tenting’ experience that cost me quality sleep, socially acceptable hygiene habits, and at least a few tenths of my cumulative GPA was all for a two-hour basketball game.

Alright. I guess that doesn’t make me sound much saner. Unless I tell you it was for the annual home Duke-UNC game. Then it might make me sound a BIT more rational. But probably not, unless you’re a Duke or Carolina alum.

Here’s what I can tell you, though – I don’t regret a single second of it. In fact, it’s one of my fondest college memories. And if I had the chance to sell my spot at that game, even for a few thousand dollars, I never would have taken it. Continue reading