Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Politics and Sports

I’ve often made the analogy between the way people think about politics and about sports. Far too many people root for a political party just like they root for a sports team, thinking without any objectivity whatsoever. That mentality makes them set obviously ridiculous double standards in both cases. In politics, it manifests itself as setting entirely different standards for those one supports than they set for those they oppose. If an accusation of wrongdoing is made of someone they support, nothing short of undeniable proof will suffice; if an accusation of wrongdoing is made of someone from the other party (or even someone from their own party that they don’t support, especially during a primary), the mere accusation is more than enough to justify howls of outrage. In sports, the same thing happens. The same behavior by a player or coach one supports is treated entirely differently than when a player or coach from a rival does the same thing. None of us is entirely immune to such subjectivity, but for some it’s so obvious and so constant that one can only wonder how they can’t see it.

Here’s a great example of this thinking from a Duke basketball message board. I’ve made no secret of being a Duke basketball fan; I’ve been one for 25 years now. But Duke fans can be just as ridiculous as any other school’s fans and this thread from a message board demonstrates it perfectly. They’re talking about Tyler Hansborough, the all-American center from North Carolina. And naturally, they’re just outraged at how overrated he is.

One clueless fan calls Hansborough “one of the most overrated players ever.” And just like in politics, that fan is convinced that the media has it in for his team (a Duke fan? Making that claim? What program has gotten more favorable media coverage than Duke for the last 20 years? I’m a Duke fan, but I can certainly admit that) and is engaged in a “media-driven conspiracy” to inflate the reputation of their rivals.

All of this is utterly absurd. And we Duke fans should be the last ones talking crap about Hansborough the way he’s dominated against our team for the last three years. His numbers against Duke in two games this year:

Game 1: 28 points, 18 rebounds.
Game 2: 16 points, 15 rebounds.

The guy is averaging 23 points and 10.5 rebounds this year. By the end of this season, he may well be the all time ACC leader in points and rebounds for a 3 year player. Think about that. In a league that’s included Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Len Bias, Dennis Scott, Grant Hill, Jason Williams, Tim Duncan, Jason Williams and dozens more legendary players, this guy could be on top of them all in scoring AND rebounding for his first three years. Overrated? You must be kidding.

The guy is 3-0 in his career in Cameron Indoor Stadium and has put up huge numbers in those wins. Duke fans, of all people, should be the last ones saying anything about how good this guy is. He’s a great player and he deserves all the praise he’s been getting.