Most nights for the next couple of months, you will find me shivering beneath a tent outside of Cameron Stadium. Like so many other Duke students, I'm tenting for the Duke-UNC game in March. I have been doing so since January.
Telling people you're tenting always gets you a reaction: whether it's shock, disbelief or awe, people can't help but voice their opinions on a tradition that is, quite frankly, kind of crazy.
To tell you the truth, I don't even like basketball. Sure, it's interesting enough, but I went to one basketball game last semester and didn't see what all the hype was about. My feet were killing me by halftime, but of course the student section never sits down, and so I struggled through it for the rest of the game. For the Duke-UNC game, I'm expecting it to be excruciatingly long and only mildly interesting, but regardless, I'm willing to camp out for two months to get in.
Why? Because it's Duke.
Because there's something about a school that takes such immense pride in athletics, in a school where you can feel the electricity in the air the day of a big game. There's something about the pride in which we wear Duke blue, how we talk about Jabari Parker like we're his best friend even though we've only seen him once or twice at the dining hall. Because hey, at least we see him at the dining hall.
It is only here where you can wax philosophic at 4 a.m. with the same people you stand next to, screaming, inside of Cameron. It is only here where you can be in the same Doc Studies class as someone who will go on to play professional basketball, where you can find a girl that's curing cancer and a future NBA star in the same place.
I may not be a basketball fan, but even I recognize basketball's ability to unite this campus.
For the next month, I will be spending my nights under a starry sky, huddled beneath piles of blankets with only a tent to protect me from the elements. I am doing so not because of any deep passion for basketball, or some macabre desire to get woken up at 6:30 a.m. by a handheld siren and the cry, "TENT CHECK," but for the experience of spending weeks with my best friends, suffering together, united by our love for our school and everything it offers.
In the end, that's what makes Duke special. For the next four years, I am at a college where you can find passion everywhere, from heated conversations in the common rooms to chilly evenings outside of Cameron.
And isn't that something.