Walking the Rivalry Tightrope

According to WRAL.com, a handful of NC State fans were so incensed over the Ty Lawson dunk at the end of the ACC Championship that they took to spewing some racial slurs at the freshman’s general direction on the fan site “The Wolf Web.”

The Wolf Web, which isn’t affiliated with the university, contained numerous posts that contained epithets and threatened to lynch University of North Carolina player Ty Lawson, who scored a breakaway slam dunk with 1 second left in UNC’s 89-80 victory over N.C. State in the championship game.

Let me first point out the incredible irony of NC State fans using racially charged language and threats when the head coach of the Wolfpack is an African-American. Honestly, how stupid can you be to engage in a kind of vitrol that would be offensive to your own coach and players? Calling Lawson classless for the dunk or complaining that it was showboating is one thing. Granted I find that assessment to be flat wrong but if that is your opinion so be it. However, calling out a player using racially insensitive language is borderline psychotic.

And I know there are NC State fans out there who have common sense and like me are capable of putting aside the rivalry in order to see the opposing coaches and players in a positive light. That is the high road and while NC State may be a rival, I also happen to like Sidney Lowe as a coach and think he has done an excellent job. Even where Duke is concerned, as much as I dislike Mike Krzyzewski for in number of issues, I do acknowledge what the facts confirm and that is he is one of the best basketball coaches in the history of the game.

The point is there is a fine line between the passions of the heart and intellectual honesty. Anyone incapable of walking that line really should relax a little bit.

Hat tip to reader C.Michael for this one.


20 Responses to Walking the Rivalry Tightrope

  1. Steve says:

    Not that anyone cares, but I am a 40 year old lifetime Wolfpack fan(and I hold 3 engineering degrees from NCSU) who has never visited the wolfweb (as far as I can remember). Yeah, they sound like idiots who are full of self-loathing and allow a competition between a bunch of 20 year olds determine their emotional state. Too bad for them. My years of experience with hundreds if not thousands of Wolfpack supporters tell me that these folks are an insignificant portion of a very large group of people. Your experience with however many hateful and vocal ignoramuses (ignorami?) may tell you otherwise, and maybe that will make you feel superior in some way. Congratulations. I’m sure there’s absolutely noone in the UNC fanbase that is racist or embarrassing to you. I won’t lose any sleep whatsoever about angry idiot fans, no matter what color they wear. And of course, I’ve met plenty that wear light blue. They’re a tiny minority as well.

    I could not care less about Ty Lawson dunking the ball at the end of a game that has already been decided. He was excited about winning a championship. Congrats to the heels on winning, and I’m glad the final game wasn’t a cakewalk. I am extremely proud of coach Lowe, this year’s undermanned, picked-to-finish-last team, and the vast majority of our fanbase who are finally unified again under our new coach. I believe the future is very bright in Raleigh and our rivalry will become more prominent moving forward. Good luck in the NCAAT(sorry, I can’t make myself pull for you though) – you’ll need some luck in that brutal East bracket.



  2. Tar Heel Fan says:

    My point is that there exists a line between disdaining your rival for the sake of the rivalry and engaging in blind hatred while using the rivalry as an excuse. Obviously it happens in every fan based to varying degrees. Even before I read this article I had read some of the postings on PackPride and was really shocked by the level of hatred some folks there have for UNC and Roy Williams. UNC fans often get into the same level of disdain for Duke. I have always thought hate was wrong and I also think jumping into the name calling instead of quality debate is the low road.

    As I said I know NC State fans who understand how to walk the line and operate with common sense.

  3. Mark says:

    I’ll start by saying I’m a student at NCSU and I love all of Wolfpack sports. The Wolf Web is an interesting place, to say the least. I’ve posted there and read it off and on over my time at NCSU. One of the common themes of The Wolf Web is to push almost everything to its extreme. It if is politically incorrect, it will probably be said and then pushed even further. 99% of the time, it’s all meant as a joke. Perhaps there are people who believe everything they post, but most of it is all a joke. Does that necessarily excuse the action? No. It just puts the comments in more context than what WRAL can provide.

  4. Steve says:

    Fair enough. Probably the hate comes through even more irrationally right after a painful loss. I’ve been known to let the outcome of sporting events make me entirely too upset. Of course, I wouldn’t dream of putting any irrationally hateful or angry thoughts out for the whole world to see.

    It’s one thing to have outrageous, hateful thoughts, and another thing entirely to express them inappropriately like a drunk Mel Gibson.

  5. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Thanks for the context Mark.

    I tend to look at the whole message board community as a whole as more of the extremist end of the fan base. If you think of it in political terms it is fringe element of a political party. On message board they are more or less prone to taking some fairly extreme and biased positions to the point of sacrificing intellectual honesty.

  6. williamodouglas says:

    I have seen things on StateFansNation that I have not seen anywhere else. Many of these State fans were openly exulting over Hansbroughs’ injury. We saw the way many of these fans treated Herb Sendek. If these sites are indeed outliers, then Lowe and NCSU must disassociate themselves from them.

  7. Steve says:

    Oh please.

  8. Steve says:

    Oops, posted my “oh please” without context. No offense intended, William.

    I think it would look ridiculous for the university or a coach(but I wouldn’t put it past the genius AD Lee Fowler) to come out and publicly dissociate from a website like SFN. It is clear to anyone who isn’t an imbecille that SFN is a fan website and is not affiliated with NCSU in any official manner. Even if it were a website that is consistently offensive (which I don’t believe, having read it every day for quite some time), making the public “dissociation” only draws more attention to it.

    If you don’t like it, do what I do to the TarPit and IC. Just ignore it.

  9. buckFush says:

    I beg to differ. I grew up in Raleigh and most of my buds were State fans. While I concede there are bad apples in all fan bases, State fans hatred of UNC borders on psychotic…and not just the “net-fringe”. Why is it forbidden to pull for a rival? Every time NCSU plays anyone (or as Pack freaks say ABC) besides the Heels, I’m pulling for them, despite their spiteful fans. I think they’ve landed an outstanding Coach, and would look forward to a renewal of the rivalry in earnest were it not for the plethora of dumb-ass mean-spirited Wolfpack fans. Surprising really, that “parking-lot/tail-gate homicides”, aren’t an annual event at Carter Stadium. From my experience, SFN and WW are quite representative…just a matter of degree.

  10. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Public disassociation by anyone at NC State would only raise their profile.

  11. buckFush says:

    PS–had a friend from Kinston who related a childhood story: seems they were playing in a friends yard, and one of the boy’s had a UNC gymbag he left on the ground. The “host” kids dad was a State fan (quite an aggressive one apparently). Anyway, the old man saw fit to throw the kids gymbag up in a tree…funny stuff, no doubt! Talk to some of the N & O writers sometime about some of the voice/e-mails they receive regularly from indignant (and paranoid) wounded Pack fans. Yes, “oh-please” indeed!

  12. williamodouglas says:

    If I am not mistaken, Lee Fowler has been interviewed by the StateFanNation website.

    I am a diehard Tar Heel fan, but I remember rooting for the Wolfpack vigorously in both 1974 and 1983, but I can understand, I guess, that State fans probably did not root for us in 2005.

    I think that many Carolina grads tend to hate Duke, because it is perceived as “an out of state” rival, which makes them ever harder to bear. Paradoxically, many State fans hate Carolina because it is an in-state rival, which makes us even harder to bear. And hopefully, “hate” here means dislike .

    I think that many Wake and State fans get tired of the constant UNC coverage within the state and then when they turn on the tube or go on line, they get tired of the constant Duke coverage.

    Matt Doherty had some problems his second year, but the UNC fan base never went after him the way that the NC State fans went after Sendek. I remember feeling that some of the incidents last year where simply uncalled for. Sure the guy was boring, but he had some pretty decent success. His treatment by the State fans after the Wake Forest and Texas games last year was simply uncalled for and low class.

    Sendek took State to five straight NCAA tournaments, tying their record. The fact that the current fan base is happier about going to the NIT, as long as they had a winning record against Wake, and Duke and UNC overall, shows you what you are dealing with. A nice little run against a depleted Duke and the two Virginia schools which have one ACC championship win between them does not a program make. Sendek made it to the ACC title game two or three times as well. State fans keep saying, but we were great back in the 70’s and 80’s. No, you were great two years, in 1973 and 1974 when you had Burleson and Thompson and that was it. Duke was down during that period and once Duke raised the program back to constant success in 1984, NC State has never been a serious threat nationally. I would be shocked if Lowe can change that now.

  13. Steve says:

    Well folks, it appears that I’ve broken my own rule about engaging with fans on a rival’s website (whether or not they consider my team a rival). My bad. Believe what you want to about State fans, clearly I won’t change your mind. I have no interest in getting into a pissing contest about whose fans are most obnoxious, or the history of State’s bball program, or what horrible things I’ve seen other teams’ fans do. I’d rather keep refreshing the score of the first round NIT game and hope my team can play well in its 5th game in 6 days.

    I really mean it when I say good luck in the tournament. As I stated earlier, I just can’t pull for Carolina, even when it would benefit my own team. I’ve tried before, but I can’t. So when y’all do well, I try to focus on how happy it makes my friends who are UNC fans.

    I will now return to my usual mode of lurking here, ignoring the slams on my school, because the actual analysis by THF is always good. Have a nice night.

  14. williamodouglas says:

    I am in the other room rooting for NC State on ESPNU. They got a nice win over Drexel.

    That doesn’t change my opinion that far too many State fans treated Sendek poorly and that he didn’t deserve that treatment, but it doesn’t mean that most State fans agreed with that behavior either. I also happen to think that Doherty was the fall guy at UNC for many of the administration’s mistakes and I have tried to express my opinion about that. Once again, that doesn’t mean that most Tar Heel fans treated Doherty badly, but it is important to criticize our own schools and fanbase when they go over the line.

  15. williamodouglas says:

    This WolfWeb stuff is really kind of vile. There would be a way to post this and have it be funny, but the site goes way over the line . It simply is low rent.


  16. Wayne says:

    I don’t want to say anything bad about Doherty, but I do believe all of his problems at UNC were of his own making, not someone elses.

  17. williamodouglas says:

    I am talking about Coach Smith leaving in October, forcing Guthridge to take the job whether he wanted it or they wanted him, back in 1997. Then Williams was ready to come to Carolina in 1999 but then Guthridge wanted one more season of coaching, but neglected recruiting. Then when Williams had begun coaching a new crop at Kansas, he no longer wanted to leave. Carolina got turned down by Larry Brown, George Karl and Eddie Fogler and there was literally no one else to take the job. Coach Smith was proposing Randy Wiel. Randy Wiel? Doherty left a very promising situation at Notre Dame where people were begging him not to leave, to go to Carolina.

    So no, it is far from true that all of his problems were Doherty’s own making. If you spent any time at all studying this program or the independent sites that existed, people were talking about the coming fall, back in 1998 and 1999. 2002 was not unexpected and it was not all Doherty’s fault.

  18. Mark says:

    You know, I think NC State fans are tired of being given absolutely no respect. Constantly all I hear is how NC State has delusions of being better than it is. Maybe some of that is true – but some of it isn’t. In recent history State hasn’t been that great, I admit, although State is slowly climbing its way up. What is ignored is the fact that NC State holds 10 ACC championships and 2 National Titles. Only Duke and UNC hold more. I wouldn’t call those numbers terrible. People also like to forget that it was NC State who paved the way in the ACC. Without NC State, the ACC isn’t the power conference it is today. An acknowledgment of these facts would be nice from time to time, instead of just pretending that State somehow doesn’t exist.

    I just wanted to get that off my chest. Now to talk about other things. I keep hearing comments about State running off Sendek. Yes, I admit, the fans did play a large part in Sendek leaving, although he did leave of his own free will. The administration was fully behind him. However, a lot of people didn’t like how he downplayed rivalries and appeared to have peaked in his ability to take State further. How would UNC fans feel if a you had a coach that told you the Duke rivalry was just another game?

    As for the joy State fans feel over the success Sidney has had, non-state fans like to spin it as State fans feeling great about an NIT bid because we beat Duke and Carolina. That isn’t right. This was a team that was supposed to be depleted and was supposed to be used by the ACC to wipe the floor. That didn’t happen, and State fans are elated. The NIT wasn’t supposed to happen this year – but State made it. Hell, State almost had a miracle four day run to the NCAA tournament. Along the way State beat both Duke and UNC, its two biggest rivals. None of that was supposed to happen. None of it. That’s what State fans are excited about. We would much prefer an NCAA bid over the NIT, but along the way we’d like to beat our rivals too. If Carolina could be guaranteed to go the NCAA tournament every year, but to do it they could only beat Duke once every five years, would you be happy with that?

    State fans claiming States resurgence into a national powerhouse team are probably being a bit too exuberant, but based on the evidence this year, State fans have a lot to be excited about. State has good players – even ones that have shown the potential to be great – and we have a coach who has proven he can coach. It that isn’t a reason for optimism, I don’t know what is.

    So that’s a perspective from a State fan. Maybe it changes some minds, maybe it doesn’t. Certainly I hope it proves that not all of us are like those who post on the wolf web, at the very least.

    I’ll cheer for Carolina in the first few rounds of the tournament – maybe. I certainly can’t cheer for Carolina to win it all, because then I’d have to spend the next year hearing if from Carolina fans. I think a lot of the comments State and Carolina fans make about each other go both ways. But then, isn’t that part of what a rivalry is all about?

  19. buckFush says:

    fwiw–I’m new here so it probably isn’t up to me to be sending out invitations, but Mark & Steve, your posting-presence is more than welcome here with me. I enjoy civil debate, and good sport/good spirit rival chat, and enjoy hearing your takes. Pardon my vitriol, but I’m not sure if State fans really get how pissed off many UNC fans are with the way the whole GH/Hansbrough thing worked out (especially how K played it). I personally thing Henderson should have also been suspended for the 1st Duke-UNC game next season–(that’s how the same situation was handled in the PAC 10 last year). The last thing we needed to see was NCSU fans piling on Tyler. I say that readily acknowledging he should’ve been kicked out of the State game for taking a clinched-fist swing.
    Pack fans deserve to be really excited about Sid—had he had Simmons & Brackman to bolster that line-up, it might well have been NCSU wearing the Crown. Congrats on your win over Drexel, and good luck the rest of the way–I’ll be pulling for your team!

  20. williamodouglas says:

    That’s fine, Mark and you express those sentiments well. I do remember a few years where Carolina beat Duke consistently and Duke kept going farther in the tournament than we did and no, beating them really wasn’t better. I would have preferred to go deep in the tournament. Obviously, doing both is better.

    With respect to how a team is viewed, I remember one year in the NCAA’s when Arkansas came to Charlotte and their fans ended up with a terrible reputation. It wasn’t that Carolina hated Arkansas or anything. We hardly ever play them, but many of their fans were an embarassment to humanity. It will be a shame if NC State lets some of its vocal minority give it a similar reputation of being low class.

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