Monday, January 3, 2011

ACC Rivalry: Where the Crips and the Bloods Learned Their Moves

Well boys and belles, I don't think we can dance around it any longer.  It's time to talk about a subject so contentious that it has been known to tear Southern families apart:  ACC Basketball.

Yes, the revered Atlantic Coast Conference. 

Although we Southerners aren't completely resistant to catching up with the times, there are certain things that shouldn't be messed with such as iced tea, festivals centering around either fruit or flowers (Strawberry, Blueberry, Azalea and Dogwood to name a few) and ACC team loyalty.  I've often thought about the judiciousness of supplying every newcomer to the South with a basic survival guide highlighting the seriousness of ACC team rivalry promptly in the first chapter.  Oh the reputations and lives that could be saved!

The first thing a newcomer would have to know is that attendance at the university of the fan's favorite team is not a prerequisite for a casual or even a rabid fan.  As a matter of fact, attendance at any institution of higher learning is not required for someone to bleed Clemson orange or Georgia Tech yellow.  Of course, there is the exceptional circumstance of attending the college of one's favorite ACC rival, but those cases tend to end sadly in either nervous breakdowns or brainwashing.

How does a person become a rabid ACC fan?  Well, there are plenty of ways, but the most likely cause is growing up in an ACC home.  I was born of two Carolina graduates, so I knew early on that Dean Smith sat only slightly below the Holy Trinity in pecking order.   Legend has it that, when my mother was in labor with my brother, Dad asked the OB (another Carolina fan) if there was a way to speed things up so that they didn't miss the Carolina v. State game.  The fact that Dad lives and breathes today proves that Mom didn't know about his request at the time.

So, I grew up certain in the knowledge that God loved the Tarheels because the sky was Carolina blue and I could sing the UNC fight song before I learned the Itsy Bitsy Spider.  Of course, I had to learn the hard way that team loyalty was no joking matter. 

When I was applying to colleges, I decided to be cute and solicit a brochure from Duke just to mess with my parents.  Of course, I had no intention of actually attending the place.  I'd spent a week at Duke one summer for tennis camp and it was all I could do not to burst into spontaneous flame by simply walking around on the grounds.   

When the information packet was delivered to our doorstep, all hell broke loose.  To be perfectly honest, I'd requested the information during one of those cattle call college booth thingys in the high school gym and I'd actually kind of forgotten about the joke.  I strolled unsuspectingly into the house one evening to find my father purple with rage and my mother laid out in a chair with an ashen face.  I thought someone had died...I just didn't realize it was going to be me.

I sat down with my heart in my throat, mentally going through the Rolodex of transgressions I might have committed to warrant the nuclear response before me.  Granted, I was guilty of any number of things, but the trick was to figure out what they knew about without serving myself up on a platter.  Dad threw the brochure down in front of me and, before I could get a word in edgewise, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was on my own if I chose to turn to the Dark Side of the Force;  he wasn't paying for a bleepity bleeping thing.  I did my best to quickly and coherently explain that the silly little Duke application was in jest, but Dad prowled around puffing smoke for at least a week after.

Of course, there are the completely insane ACC fanatics (see above), but then there are more practical ones like my mother.  As I packed up to head off to college, Mom took me aside and said, "Ashley, don't look for a husband at Chapel Hill because they won't be able to support you with their liberal arts degree.  You go study at the Duke Medical Library or at N.C. State.  Doctors and engineers, honey, doctors and engineers."

Rather than risk the wrath of my father by marrying a Duke boy (truth be told that I didn't have the stomach for it anyway), I married a bonafide and fantastic N.C State mechanical engineer.  We are a house divided, but I pull for State when they aren't playing Carolina and Scott--more begrudgingly--pulls for Carolina when they aren't playing State. 

As for the baby belles, Scott got to Baby Belle 1 while I was trusting and unsuspecting, but I'm already working on Baby Belle 2.  Of course, Scott and I can at least agree on one thing:  They aren't going to Duke.

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