While scanning the daily headlines for women’s athletics coverage I was drawn to a story on Duke Women’s basketball fans. Prior to the highly anticipated Duke vs. North Carolina game in which Duke claimed their 29th win this season, students made history and raided the tent city once known as Krzyzewskiville proudly claiming it Goestenkorsopolis in honor of women’s coach Gail Goestenkors.
Because of the school’s rich (or nauseating) basketball history, students began erecting the tent city next to Cameron Indoor Stadium in the mid 1980s to gain access to popular games. Since there are no student tickets awarded, they instead set up camp several weeks and even months to get into games against rivals such as North Carolina. K-town, as it is affectionately known, is such an important part of campus life that it has its own official university website and the Student Government regulates and maintains it.
With Krzyzewskiville’s popularity, I was excited to find out that this tradition was used for the first time to gain access to a women’s game. Students braved the elements in Goestenkorsopolis for a week prior to the game, which is no small feat at the end of February. In fact, a few women’s games have been sold out and students have been turned away this season because the student section is filled. As a women’s sport enthusiast I know that such fan support is unheard of. For a moment I thought that maybe women’s athletics were making great strides.
Despite my excitement, I must admit that I don’t like Duke. I grew up in a basketball-mad home and Duke has always been equated to “the evil empire”, Darth Vador theme music and all. My ill-will toward Duke prompted me to search for the Achilles heel of this seemingly positive story. Indeed, I found it as I read more. I discovered that the population of Goestenkorsopolis was reported to be between 16 and 44 people. I was shocked (and yet pleased) at this small number. This was my smoking gun. Not only is that an irrelevant number of participants, but it also cannot begin to compare to the 1,200 that occupy Krzyzewskiville before big games. In addition, several inhabitants of Goestenkorsopolis did not actually need tickets because they were Duke Pep band members. In other words, students were camping for novelty and not necessity.
Why would this be a problem? They are still fans showing support, right? Wrong, they aren’t fans, they are Duke fans. The same fans that are upset with the dismal season the men’s basketball team has had this season. In these dire times, the only solace they can find is in their winning team, which just happens to be women. The fans are just transferring their support until the tide turns and the Duke men reign again. This may seem like a harsh assertion, but I ask you this: Would there have been a Goestenkorsopolis or any coverage of it if Duke’s men were also undefeated this season? No way.
My bitterness toward Duke may be more apparent than usual since I am still feeling the sting of the recent romping the Maryland women’s basketball team received courtesy of Harding and company. I am more than willing to concede that my deep-seeded loathing of Duke colors my opinion. Even so, I can’t take this story to mean anything more to the women’s athletic community than Duke fans are desperate to forget their men’s misgivings and hold onto a winning record. Of course I want it to mean more and I hope to see women’s athletic spectatorship skyrocket in my lifetime. Goestenkorsopolis is just not a shining example of this trend. You can’t trust those Duke fans.