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Why I Quit Tenting

It’s that time of year again for Duke Students: Basketball Season. The season means a lot to Duke as whole – so much so that students are willing to live in tents for over a month just to attend the Duke-UNC game, subjecting themselves to nightly “checks” that happen at random intervals to assure that the required number of people are in the tent.

A couple months ago, when a friend of mine asked if I was tenting, I said I was planning on doing blue tenting, a milder version of tenting that generally still offers a good view of the game. She informed me that because the season was so short this year, there may only be black tenting. Because I didn’t want to risk not seeing the game, I (somewhat nervously) signed myself up to be a part of a black tent. Throughout winter break, I was excited, if apprehensive, for the season and the bonding it would bring with my tent mates and other friends. My family, which has never been particularly involved or enthused about sports, thought that I was completely insane and attempted to remind me that prior to coming to Duke I had practically no interest in anything to do with sports. But I maintained that black tenting was meant for me, and that I would be front and center during a game, that, having grown up in Chapel Hill, meant a lot to me.

When the head line monitors first informed us that 160 tents had signed up for the 70 spots allotted, I began to have the first of mild doubts that this was a good idea. Since I wasn’t very passionate about sports (and really have only ever cared about the Duke-UNC game) I felt that it wouldn’t be fair to others who really did care if I was able to tent. But my tent members did very well in trivia, and we were given a spot in KVille. My excitement returned, and suddenly I was thrilled to be a part of this Crazie (see what I did there?) tradition. That is, until I spent my first few nights in the tent.

I am the kind of person who can’t fall asleep if there’s even the mildest amount of noise around me. Naturally, when there are some 700 people not 500 feet away from you, it is very difficult for somebody like me to fall asleep. Moreover, given previous issues with my back that came from years of dancing, sleeping in the cold on a hard tent floor caused these issues that had not bothered me for half a year to flare up once more, further hindering any hopes of even a few hours of sleep. As I reached my fifth night of ~2.5 hours of sleep, I began to be delirious, emotionally unstable (crying if I thought somebody looked at me weird or something didn’t go as planned), all of my doubts about whether or not I even should be a member of a tent came back to me. I realized that I, personally, would be much happier watching the game on TV if it meant that I wouldn’t have to suffer through my back pain for many more months to come. It also meant that somebody who has been extremely passionate about the season but wasn’t lucky enough to get a spot in a tent would be able to experience this tradition in full. Thus, I made the difficult – especially since we were so close to entering the blue tenting stage – decision to quit tenting and give up my spot.

While tenting proved not to be my thing, I have tremendous respect for everyone that just completed the black tenting round and is moving on to blue tenting. This kind of passion is exactly why I love Duke – and I’m extremely excited to be rooting for the Blue Devils come February 9th, even though I may not be there in person!!

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