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Being a Men’s Basketball Fan as a Woman

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the quote from Ben Franklin that says “there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes.” For me, that saying would have to include Duke Basketball. Now I know I go to NC State so saying that I am a Duke fan may seem a bit jarring, but I have learned to love both teams and have school spirit without losing my love for Duke. At the end of the day, State hates UNC just as much as Duke does so we can bond over that.

Outside looking in, finding out that I am a basketball fan may seem shocking. I am absolutely obsessed with shopping, pop culture, and pink and don’t fit the stereotype of being a basketball fan, let alone a basketball fan that is a girl. 

For some background, Duke University is located in Durham, North Carolina, and is a private college. Their basketball team is coached by Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K for short) who has been there for 42 years with this year being his last. The program has 5 NCAA National Championships, 21 ACC Championships, and 102 players from the program have been drafted into the NBA. Needless to say, the program is absolutely legendary so being a fan can be really fun. It also can come with much criticism from their rival fans. Their biggest rival is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which is only an 8-mile drive down the road from them.

I grew up being a Duke fan. I was even named after the stadium where they play–Cameron Indoor Stadium–so saying that I was guaranteed to be a Duke fan is an understatement. Everyone hates Duke, even if you live in North Carolina. Most people here are UNC fans or they are people who jump on the bandwagon because everyone else cheers for them. They are also ruthless when it comes to seeing someone in a Duke shirt. I have been harassed countless times and told to change out of my Duke apparel when I was doing absolutely nothing but minding my business. The only thing that keeps me from saying something back is the fact that I have class, which is something that most Carolina fans don’t know much about.

On top of all of that criticism, it can be difficult being such a huge basketball fan and being a girl. Taking all the aspects of what team I cheer for out of it, many people think that because I’m a girl I couldn’t possibly know anything about basketball and it sucks having to explain myself. I used to play basketball and know basically all the rules that you need to know to enjoy and understand a game, but sometimes that’s just not enough to convince people that I know what I’m talking about. I definitely think that I draw extra criticism from male Carolina fans being a girl that cheers for Duke. They see themselves as superior when in reality they are just insecure that a girl knows more about basketball than they do.

Duke is not strictly the only team that I watch. Over this past summer, I watched every single Milwaukee Bucks NBA Finals game with my younger brother from the first round against the Miami Heat all the way to the championship games against the Phoenix Suns. I simply enjoy the sport but apparently that can be hard for small minded people to understand.

I don’t think that there is a specific way that a basketball fan is supposed to look. If you like watching games and get enjoyment out of them, why should you be criticized? I have also heard that women only watch basketball because they think the players are cute. I mean I’m not going to deny that is a reason for some because watching cute guys play basketball definitely makes watching more enjoyable, but that is certainly not a reason why I tune into every game.

The notion that only men watch basketball is baffling to me. Yes, it is a huge stereotype that men watch sports while women shop, but why can I not enjoy doing both? If you tune into any basketball game-and look into the stands women are NOT few and far between. I wouldn’t say that the number of female fans is equal to that of male fans but I would definitely say that it is close. I have driven the 20 miles to the Duke campus a few times this year, and even got to meet the current team and legendary former players. When meeting these players, the crowd of people surrounding them are grown men and myself, which I honestly find funny.

This goes for all sports as well. Even some high-profile athletes like Cam Newton have made comments about women being fans of sports and even made fun of a reporter named Jourdan Rodrigue when she asked him about routes. “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton said after she asked him a question. He caught tons and tons of flack for his comment and was even dropped by many sponsors for his comments. 

Overall, being a men’s basketball fan as a young woman can be quite difficult at some times, but at the same time, it can be so much fun. I look forward to November every year for the college basketball seasons to start and truly become a different person during March Madness, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Cameron is a freshman at NC State University and is from Charlotte, North Carolina. She is obsessed with pop culture, fashion, and Timothée Chalamet. She hopes to work at Vogue magazine after graduating.
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