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Comarow’s Corner Feature: Duke Fan Psychology Poll Results/Analysis

By December 26, 2014No Comments

I’d like to thank all the Duke fans who took the time to fill out this poll in October. I genuinely love the psychology of why people act in certain ways, and sports fanhood is especially interesting, specifically on social media (mainly Twitter) where anonymity can come into play. I worried that if I kept asking why people behaved in certain ways, I would come off as “holier than thou” and this was not the intention at all then or even now when I give my analysis. I just wanted to gain a better understanding of the actions of others, so that is why I created the poll. After watching behavior as well as my own interactions with Duke fans for about two months and 10 pre-ACC Conference games, I feel like I’ve compiled enough information to give my analysis. Since I live in Maryland and not in North Carolina, I have to base most of my opinions when writing poll feedback on social media. This can be a very dangerous thing to do considering Twitter can be the ultimate promotional tool for negativity, so I’ll admit that some can be taken with a grain of salt if you believe they are too far based in the social media world. I want to make it clear that the majority of my interactions with Duke fans are positive, but I am outspoken on the chaotic interactions I see involving some Duke fans with fans of opposing teams when escalating beyond fun, typical back and forth trash talk. I welcome any feedback to the responses, or even to my analysis of the responses. If you choose to comment or write me, though, please make sure you have read all of my responses so that you aren’t missing anything I have fully explained, and can at least respect my perspective. And lastly, my analysis of the results is not meant to prove any point or to say I’m right and anyone else is wrong. It’s simply my opinions and experiences, for better or worse.

My own response to each question and analysis of the results is written in italics.


1) Which type of Duke fan best describes you?

37.74% An Emotional Fan (I love the team and the players! Wait, now I hate the team and the players! I should play for/coach the team!)

33.33% A “keep it together” fan (I passionately want the team to win, but I’m not going to lose my mind over it)

28.93% A  rah rah fan (basically a cheerleader, meaning that I allow nothing but positivity into my Duke fanhood)

0% A “something to do” fan (I only pay attention to fill time or because my friends/loved ones are fans)

(I am a “keep it together” fan)


2) How do you watch the games?

27.81% I live in the moment, and Duke is exactly as good as their most recent play and most recent game. I can view Duke as the greatest team and as the worst team multiple times throughout the game. The result of the game determines how I think of them until the next game.

25.17% I want Duke to win, but no matter the result, I am just as interested in “how and why” it happened.

17.88% The game is a war, the opposing team represents pure evil, and anything less than Duke winning by 150 is a letdown!

16.56% It’s purely black & white, with no gray area. Good play/bad play, win the game/lose the game is all that matters.

12.58% I want Duke to win, but for me, it is just as much about the experience of watching the game as the result.

(As anyone who’s read my articles, analysis, tweets, and listens to my podcasts knows, I am a passionate fan, but care deeply about the “how and why” as much as anything.)


3) Are you able to talk about and analyze the team/player/game on more than a surface level? (Breaking down the x’s & o’s/strengths & weaknesses. Pretty much the “how and why” rather than “is.”) Do you consider it important for someone to be able to understand & analyze the game/players in order to call themselves more than an average fan?

75% Yes/Yes

20.95% Yes/No

3.38% No/No

0.68% No/Yes

(First of all I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a fan and not being able to analyze the game on more than a surface level. And I will not pretend to know how fans act and think about the team/player/game outside of social media, but the 75% answer I see to this question requires me to call shenanigans. I have constantly tried to engage Duke fans on more than a surface level, and have gotten ZERO response. Besides my own, I haven’t seen this kind analysis anywhere on Twitter or in response to articles either. I sometimes feel that real conversations and analysis involving more than just one response on Twitter is avoided because any disagreement will either lead to a fight, trolling i.e. mocking, or the easy cliché “Calm down! You’re taking this too seriously” which always amuses me as a response to a simple disagreement. There is nothing wrong with a good conversation or debate backed up with real thought stated in a respectful manner. The Elizabeth King Forum on Duke Basketball Report can be hit or miss, but I give posters a ton of credit for rationally breaking down the game and players on a deeper level. Again though, I don’t know how anyone acts outside of Twitter or Duke and National blogs/forums/message boards, which is all I have to base this on. Many who I see on social media live in North Carolina and can talk Duke basketball and break down games with each other at work, school, or through friendships and family, so Twitter is unnecessary for that purpose)


4) Do you have a Duke bias (homer attitude) towards the team/player/refs/announcers? Do you think that someone can be a true Duke fan without this bias?

37.84% Yes/No

35.14% Yes/Yes

24.32% No/Yes

2.70% No/No

(Having a Duke bias is fine, but making a rule that someone can’t be a true Duke fan without being biased is beyond my comprehension. If anyone answered this way, I’d love for you to email or DM me so I can get better insight into why this is felt.)


5) How do you view Duke players?

55.41% They are like family to me, and I enjoy their growth as I would my own child.

31.76% I have my favorites on every Duke team, but don’t go overboard.

8.11% I live vicariously through them.

4.73% They are just players for Duke. I root for them on the court, but that’s where it ends.

(I chose “I have my favorites on every Duke team, but don’t go overboard”)


6) Do any of these apply to those who use Twitter?

30.82% None of the above.

22.6% All of the above

16.44% I retweet/comment about everything and anything involving my favorite Duke players.

13.01% I will spend however long it takes defending the Duke players to those who dare say a bad word about them.

11.64% I think of the players like I do my friends, and try to communicate with them more than occasionally through Twitter. It makes me very happy when they respond.

5.48% I don’t use Twitter.

(I chose “none of the above.”)


7) How do you feel about opposing teams/players?

51.03% They are just opponents, except for UNC, and to a lesser extent, Kentucky.

20.69% I look for any possible reason to hate them.

17.93% I carry no ill will, and will even go as far as to say I have rooted for certain teams and players when they aren’t playing against Duke.

10.34% They are just playing against Duke. I hope Duke beats them, but carry no ill will.

(I chose the 17.93% answer. Based on what I’ve seen, I’d say the 51.03% option should be much higher)


8) Do you feel that opposing fans feel more negatively towards Duke than the average team?

98.62% Yes

1.38% No

(I agree with “Yes”)


9) Do you think that Duke fans get a bad rap?

66.90% Yes

33.10% No

(I chose No, I do not feel Duke fans get a bad rap. Though the majority are extremely good-natured and respectful, negativity abounds on social media. When I lived in North Carolina, all the Duke fans I knew were extremely kind, even around North Carolina fans. On social media, though, the negativity involving SOME can get out of hand. Without going into detail, I’ve actually had more issues with fellow Duke fans then with fans of other teams. Rather than following all Duke fans to get a return follow like many do, I now carefully choose most of who I follow since I don’t want to deal with negativity towards myself and opposing fans put forth by a select group, who I realize don’t represent the entire fanbase. And again, please note that the mass majority of my interactions with Duke fans are 100% positive.)


10) If you have ever been involved in a heated argument (or more) with someone because they were anti-Duke, what caused this situation?

54.17% They were talking badly about Duke or Duke’s fans to me, and I had no choice but to respond.

24.31% A casual debate turned into something much more heated.

10.42% I have never chosen to involve myself into a negative anti-Duke situation.

9.03% I heard or saw some anti-Duke chatter not involving me, but chose to involve myself or point it out on social media, thus involving myself.

2.08% I was running my mouth about Duke, and they responded.

(For me, the only heated arguments, which have been incredibly rare, were outside of social media when casual debates, typically with Maryland fans, turned into something much more heated.)


11) If a Duke fan was being obnoxious, would you say something, or ignore it for fear of being labeled the dreaded “fan police?”

51.39% I would say something. A Duke fan being obnoxious is just as bad as an opposing fan being obnoxious.

36.11% People can act any way they want to. Don’t be the fan police.

12.5% I would pretend that I didn’t see it/hear it.

(I keep 99% of interactions positive, and usually avoid butting into anyone else’s business, but if someone is truly being awful, I treat the situation as I would in real life. If I think it’s getting out of hand, I’ll stand up for what I believe. At sporting events, escalations are ignored and this is how fights start and people get hurt. The only other situations I choose to respond to are when the negativity goes overboard, like personal insults or making rules defining how Duke fans should act, i.e. “if you like Marcus Paige, you aren’t a real Duke fan!”)


12) If there is truly an anti-Duke bias, what is the primary reason you think for this?

36.11 % Duke wins all the time.

23.61% Haters gonna hate.

15.97% Media force-feeding Duke, leading to backlash.

9.03% The university and fans are very elitist/white-collar.

6.94% Coach K

4.86% A history of having more white players than the average top-tier basketball school.

2.78% They flop too much.

0.69% There is no bias.

(I chose the media force-feeds Duke, leading to backlash. I threw in “Haters gonna hate” as a choice just to see who would pick that option, considering “haters gonna hate” is one of the weirdest statements I’ve ever heard in my life associated with any subject, much less a sports team.)


13) Do you think that Duke fans have been spoiled by winning, affecting their behavior? (Especially after the 1st round losses)

72.92% Yes

27.08% No

(Yes, Duke fans have. It’s only natural)


14) In my personal experience living in MD & NC, I’ve never had a problem with opposing fans (and a friendly reminder that no fans on earth would love to get violent with a Duke fan more than MD fans) and am of the opinion that if you act rationally, give respect to opposing fans/teams, know when to stop dealing with an irrational person, and can respond knowledgeably to basketball discussion, you will avoid 99% of all arguments involving no alcohol. Do you agree with this opinion?

92.20% Yes

7.80% No

(One of my best friends went to Chapel Hill, and we have a lot of fun watching games together and trading insults back and forth, so I understand fun banter.  I have been on Twitter since 2009, and have had ZERO negative interactions with fans of North Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, or any other team. It’s possible to want to beat the other team and still interact in a civil manner with one another. If you give respect, respect is generally received back. If the person is out of line, you can always simply ignore or block them. I find it interesting how many agree with me, yet I see constant arguments with fans of other teams that escalate beyond fun, typical back and forth trash talk.)

(Fun fact relating to Maryland fans: I live just outside of Baltimore, and one of the biggest Baltimore sports blogs is…yes, you read that website address correctly. If you’re reading this in late December, 2014, check out the avatar of the Twitter account @iHateJJRedick. The guy who runs it is actually really nice, so understand that he’s having fun with the subject and it’s not personal. Maryland fans just really, really, really, really hate Duke, along with JJ Redick, haha.)


15) How do you feel the media handles Duke?

50.35% Fairly

27.66% Anti-Duke bias

21.99% Pro-Duke bias

(I think the media handles Duke fairly. The fact that they talk about Duke so much understandably gets under people’s skin)


16) Do you think that it’s fair to question Coach K during a game?

34.75% It’s fair to question something, but I would never say that he’s wrong.

34.04% Of course it’s fair.

16.31% Never! He’s the best!

14.89% On x’s and o’s issues, I would say yes, considering that even he admits that’s not his forte. On all other issues, I would never question him.

(I would never disrespect Coach K, but why not question him? I doubt anyone refuses to question political leaders, yet you think it’s wrong to question a basketball coach? Fans have a right to opinions, as long as they don’t show disrespect)


17) When you watch Duke play, what expectations are you holding them to?

84.40% Every game is a chance for growth and building until the tourney.

10.64% Everything is comparable to the 1992 team.

4.96% No expectations. I just love watching them play.

(I would choose “every game is a chance for growth & building until the tourney.” No need to overreact to every game.)


18) How quickly are you, after a loss, to blame effort?

54.61% Sometimes it can be effort, I mean, these are kids with distractions. It’s natural to give less than 100% in some games.

31.91% Never. Who are we as fans to think we can judge how hard there’s playing.

13.48% Of course it’s effort, they have a ton of All-Americans and the greatest coach!

(Unless a player is walking down the court, who are we to question effort? I remember playing on teams growing up that lost, and the coach would tell us we weren’t trying hard enough. It made me so angry, because I’d know that my teammates and I were giving everything we had. Sometimes the talent just isn’t enough or we had a bad game. Unless the lack of effort is blatantly obvious, I think it’s dangerous for fans to venture into that territory. I think that some blame effort because it’s hard to imagine a team that has such highly touted players losing for any other reason. Bottom line, in my opinion, is that we just aren’t informed enough to be able to question effort.)


19) After a loss, are you more likely to blame Duke or give the other team credit?

56.74% Blame Duke

43.26% Give credit to opposing team.

(I’ve heard that I should have given an option for “blame Duke AND give credit to the opposing team” but I’m sure that this option would have been 100%…but maybe I should have anyway. I give credit to the opposing team the majority of the time, but there are certain times I blame Duke as well. This is a tough one.)


20) As a fan, is it important to know Duke basketball history?

95% Yes

5% No

(I answered Yes)


21) If Duke history is important, which player should your knowledge date back to?

32.37% Johnny Dawkins

28.06% Mike Gminski

25.90% Grant Hill

10.07% JJ Redick

2.16% Jason (Jay) Williams

1.44% Nolan Smith

0% Trajan Langdon

0% I responded to the previous question that history wasn’t important to know.

(I assume the majority of responders to this poll are on Twitter, and a major portion of Twitter is younger than age 30, so I was surprised to see Dawkins and Gminski percentages so high. My Duke knowledge goes father back than Grant Hill, but I chose and would have predicted him as the highest, since he became popular just as Duke started to explode on the national scene. I’m praying that Trajan Langdon is not 0% because people haven’t heard of him. He was my favorite Dukie growing up!)


22) Should Duke keep recruiting one & done players?

53.24% Yes, because I trust Coach K to surround the one and done players with experienced talent.

20.14% No, and I didn’t read your article.

16.55% Yes, and I didn’t read your article.

5.76% Yes, and I read your article.

3.6% No, and I read your article.

0.72% No, because I don’t trust Coach K to surround the one and done players with experienced talent.

(I doubt I could have worded this question any worse. I apologize, and it’s really not even worth commenting because it’s worded so badly, but if you haven’t read my article analyzing the Duke one and done period, I’d recommend it. It goes over how Duke adjusted to the early-entry period and then each specific team during the current one and done era.)


23) Cameron Indoor Stadium has had trouble selling out the student section for non-top tier games in recent years. What could be the biggest cause?

32.37% Duke is too hard academically, and there’s no time for students to attend games.

32.37% The viewing experience at home/dorm room/bar is preferred.

19.42% Duke students don’t care/Duke is accepting too many students with no interest in basketball.

15.83% Duke’s lack of NCAA tournament success in the last 10 years besides 2010.

(This is a tough one to answer. I had no expectations as to what kind of response I’d see. I would have chosen, just like in all live sports this day and age, that “the viewing experience at home/dorm room/bar is preferred.”)


24) How often do you feel the need to let the world know that you are a Duke fan?

42.75% I mention it occasionally, but take it to another level on game day.

37.68% I say it and use social media to advertise it every day.

19.57% I use real discussions about Duke to show people I’m a Duke fan. I’m not a walking advertisement.

(I answered taking it to another level on game day. From what I’ve seen, I’m surprised the “I say it and use social media to advertise it every day” option didn’t have a higher percentage.)


25) Do you believe that Duke will win every game?

63.04% I rationally look at the opposition for each game and how Duke is playing. Then I give my informed opinion.

32.61% Of course. What true fan wouldn’t?

4.35% I don’t predict results.

0% Why would I? After two first-round losses in three years, it’d be a damn miracle just to win one game!

(I agree with the “rational” answer. I don’t understand the answer “of course…” Just because you as a fan WANT Duke to win every game doesn’t mean that you should think that they WILL win every game. Again, these rules of fanhood seem interesting to me.)


26) How do you judge Duke’s season?

41.30% The grand scope of the season. It’s unfair to base it solely on a crapshoot like the tourney.

23.91% NCAA Tourney result. That is all that matters.

22.46% I judge it on the answer to the question “Did Coach K get the best he possibly could have out of the team?”

12.32% If Duke beats UNC, the season is a success no matter what.

(I answered “the grand scope of the season.” Kentucky was thought to be a bust of a team last year until the tournament. I will say, though, that Duke deserved to lost to Mercer. Mercer was a better team than Duke.)


27) While Josh Hairston (I could have said “A Duke player” but pointing out his name adds the necessary personal emotion to answer this question) seemed like a great guy, his talent didn’t equal his heart. It was obvious his play was hindering Duke even early on in his career, but people seemed very afraid to team point this out for fear of being too negative. Is this “mothering” him, or do we as fans have a right to critique?

36.03% Yes, as long as you’re not being mean about it.

32.35% No, we have to trust in Coach K to make the right decisions of who to play.

25% Absolutely. Contribute or get off the court.

6.62% No.  These are not professional athletes. Lay off them and be supportive!

(This question is along the same lines as if it’s okay to question Coach K. I think as long as you’re respectful and not mean about it, it’s perfectly okay to give an informed opinion.)


28) Why did you become a Duke fan?

55.88% Passed down in my family.

13.97% It’s fun to root for a team that most people root against.

12.50% Friends (to have a common team, or to go against them for fun).

9.56% I went to Duke.

8.09% Duke is typically very good.

(I heard feedback that I should have given a choice of Duke fanhood being influenced by the community in which a person grew up in, but I think that could be the “friends” answer that I chose. I am shocked that the “Duke is typically very good” option is so low. Something tells me not everyone is being honest, haha.)


29) Currently there is no Duke basketball podcast in existence. I would love to make a weekly podcast during the season (probably around 30-45 minutes each), but need to gauge interest. Assuming the podcast is quality, how likely are you to listen?

32.84% I would be a consistent listener.

31.34% I’d give it a shot, and if it’s worth it, could become a consistent listener.

22.39% I might listen occasionally.

7.46% Not likely. Watching the games and reading articles/social media is enough.

5.22% I don’t have time to listen to a podcast.

0.75% I’ve seen your comments on Twitter. No chance.

0% What’s a podcast?

(Based on the response of over 85% saying they would at the very least give my podcast a chance, combined with me constantly promoting it on Twitter and Dukeblogger, I am surprised at the amount of people who, when asked, tell me they haven’t listened to the podcast or don’t even know it exists, considering they answered this very question in which I stated that I was going to make it. I have released 8 podcasts (7 solo) since the start of the season and during this last weekend of 2014, am about to record one as an interview, another with a co-host, and then my usual solo version after the Boston College game. I would love any feedback from those listening, and please spread the word and subscribe on iTunes.)


I will keep on writing articles, analyzing games, and podcasting 180 degrees differently (not better or worse, just differently) from national writers and other Duke bloggers, so thanks to those who have supported my work. I would love to hear feedback and inspire discussion about the team. I will do my best to keep improving and putting out quality material.


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