By Alexi Knock, Assistant News Editor
Recently, I had the opportunity to do some truly undercover journalism: I went to a Duke basketball game dressed head-to-toe as a Cameron Crazy. For those of you who are such intense Pride fans that you don't have the time to focus on a team not in the Colonial Athletic Association, a Cameron Crazy is anyone in the student section at a Duke basketball game.
Hundreds of miles away from my home in the Lion's Den, I had to wait in line outside Cameron Indoor Stadium for three hours to attend a game that wasn't even considered ‘big.' While complaining about the three-hour wait, I was humbled when I saw the tents nearby in Krzyzewskiville. These tents are the homes of students who are willing to wait in line for weeks in order to attend the Duke-UNC game.
Coming from a school where I can walk up a minute before the game and get prime seating, I couldn't even wrap my head around the fact that students were willing to ditch their dorms for these tents. I know I'm not the biggest sports fan on the East Coast, but I now realize why they call themselves Crazies.
When I finally got to see the indoor part of Cameron Indoor, I noticed right away that every seat was filled. No grassroots ‘Pack the Mack' campaign was needed by Coach K; his mere presence was enough to fill the place up. During Hofstra's home game against Drexel, Mack Sports Complex had the most attendees in four years – yet there were still over a dozen empty seats.
From the moment the game started until the clock read zero, the students cheered. Literally. I was so stunned and distracted by all the cheering that I could barely keep up with the happenings of the game. I felt like I needed to be a dance major in order to have the hand-eye coordination for the constant bouncing and clapping. Every Cameron Crazy was perfectly in unison when they shouted, "Let's go DUKE" or said "hi" to each player announced on the visiting team. The level of fandom there was like something out of a sports movie.
Among all the commotion though, I felt a little awkward following along with the cheering routines. Usually, I'm a pretty outgoing person, so I couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to yell just as loud as everyone else. I figured out later that the answer is simple: I'm not a Cameron Crazy.
Hofstra will never have the amount of money Duke has invested in its basketball program. The Pride may never make it to the Final Four. Heck, most years we struggle to get into the postseason at all. Coach Mo Cassara doesn't get paid $3 million a year like Coach K or have 30 seasons as head coach under his belt-which means Cassara would have started coaching the Pride at age seven. We don't have Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith or Kyle Singler. What we do have, however, is a Lion's Den full of dedicated fans that are – almost- as crazy as the Crazies – not to mention Charles Jenkins.
When the Pride won a 92-90 thriller against James Madison, fans and players alike went wild. When Jenkins broke Hofstra's all-time career scoring record, the Lion's Den roared louder than I could have ever imagined. When a Pride fan started a ‘Charles Jenkins Facts' group on Facebook, over one hundred students contributed with statements like "the Old Spice guy wishes he smelled like Charles Jenkins."
Although I feel that our enthusiasm for Hofstra sports could be much stronger, I think we have made major improvements this season. Our new coach is beloved and our fan base is stronger than ever. Even though Duke Basketball is probably hated on more than it is loved, maybe we can learn something from its fans and go a little crazy ourselves.