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Duke basketball super fans lectured on DEI etiquette: ‘Heckle responsibly’

Make sure your cheer section isn’t a racist cheer section.

That was one of several messages Duke University’s super fans were given during a recent — and inaugural — “DEI town hall,” the Duke Chronicle student newspaper reported.

The workshop took place in mid-January and was given to the elite university’s super fans taking part in an annual “K-Ville” campout that precedes the game between crosstown rival UNC Chapel Hill and the start of March Madness.

“Starting on Jan. 21, students lived out in tents in K-Ville right outside Cameron Indoor Stadium in an effort to get student-tickets to the game. Only a limited amount of spots are available inside the incredible, yet tiny arena, so students have to show their dedication to the Blue Devils until March 2 in order to get inside,” Spectrum News reported.

Duke’s website billed the “K-Ville Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Town Hall” as an opportunity for students to “learn about what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to K-Ville, as well as about DEI efforts that are being implemented by the line monitors.” Line monitors oversee the camp and the cheer section.

The Chronicle reported that campers were told:

The line monitors began by emphasizing that tenters should “treat others the way [they] want to be treated.” Other major points included barring the use of slurs inside Cameron Indoor Stadium and asking students to refrain from letting stereotypes make a first impression.

The presentation also touched on rules specific to tenting. Line monitors reminded tenters to respect boundaries, be mindful of different identities and ensure that their tent names are appropriate. They also applied the “Vegas rule” to tenting, stating that “what happens in K-Ville, stays in K-Ville.” …

The monitors also discussed game day etiquette, reminding tenters to be respectful of rival teams and to “heckle responsibly.” … The moderators focused on DEI practices followed by the basketball team and coaches.

The workshop was the first of its kind, according to the Chronicle. It came exactly one year after the launch of a DEI strategic plan by Duke’s athletics department.

The workshop caught the eye of the New York Times, which reported on it March 7 under the headline: “Duke Asks Its Crazed Basketball Fans to Heckle Responsibly.”

The Times reported:

The student section of Blue Devils fans, called “Cameron Crazies” for the energy and antics they bring to that cramped arena at Duke, heckles opponents with the help of “cheer sheets” that include biographical details and biting comments about opposing players. Past cheer sheets from games against U.N.C. called one of its athletes “the ugliest player in the N.C.A.A.” and said of another, “no way he’s allowed to live within 200 yards of a school.”

The suggested chants were sometimes targeted — “Caveman” for one player with long hair and a beard — but largely innocuous, including “Go, Devils, Go,” and “Baby!” Duke fans regularly scream and wave their hands at opposing players when they inbound the ball.

In recent months there have been several controversies regarding alleged racism among collegiate athletics fans that have been exposed as hate-crime hoaxes, including one involving Duke.

In that 2022 incident, a Duke volleyball player’s claims that she was the target of repeated racial slurs at a Brigham Young University game were debunked.

MOREHate crime hoaxes of 2021

IMAGE: Duke University website screenshot

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.