Dept. of Meh

I will probably not spend much of this evening watching the last game of the NCAA basketball tournament. I'm not a big sports fan in general, with the exception of Grand Slam tennis. I find baseball and football enjoyable enough, though I don't make a point of watching either. But basketball leaves me cold.

However, in so far as I am rooting for one team tonight, I will be rooting for Butler. Partly because it's great when the underdog wins. Partly because my old pal and fishing buddy Brian went there. Partly because their coach is really, really cute. But mainly because one of my more troublesome exes went to law school at Duke.

Anyhow, my cred when it comes to college athletics is pretty damn thin. On the other hand, I think my attentiveness to gay rights issues is par excellence. And I was singularly unmoved by Seyward Darby's article about Duke haters and homophobia.
[T]here's one major problem with the neat morality play that left-leaning Duke haters have constructed for themselves: the jarring and disproportionate level of homophobia that routinely gets directed at the basketball players. There's the classic "This is Why Duke Sucks" YouTube video that has received more than 1.6 million hits--and boasts lyrics about one Duke player being a "bitch" and another having a "dude's face all on [his] balls." Or the more recent (and explicit) video, "Greg Paulus--'I Kissed a Boy,'" which mocks Duke's senior guard for, among other things, enjoying the taste of men's sweat. Or another video about Paulus ("Tea Bag: A Greg Paulus Tribute"), posted by user TarHeel32Blue, which shows several clips of the guard near or between the legs of other players.


[J]ust last week, when the website canigetaverdict2.com asked, "Who's The Most Annoying Duke Basketball Player of Alltime," one user declared Christian Laettner, who played for Duke in the early '90s, "annoying, overrated, homosexual, and white."

I remember the rumor that Laettner was gay way back when. (At the time, hearing this had the unintended effect of making me a surreptitious Christian Laettner fan.) And I'm not disputing that many Duke detractors use homophobic rhetoric in their mockery of the school's athletes, though YouTube vidoes and random comments do not a movement make.

However, I don't really think Darby makes his case that this is specific to Duke. I think if there were another particularly imposing school in Duke's place, its players would get similar treatment. Sports culture is rife with macho posturing and homophobia, and plenty of other players from prominent schools have gotten similar treatment.

Would I like to see the homophobia abate? You bet. Do I think Duke has it particularly bad? Nah. Do I hope they lose? Go Butler.

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