Capitaist Note: Duke is in the Sweet 16 and angling for another Championship. How's that working for you? I'm running this post from a few years back, because the teams I really wanted to follow this spring - Gonzaga and Ole Miss - are out. That leaves me with the boys from Durham. I watched them last night in the second round and was... like.... meh....
I kid. But I'm guessing that if you polled all the serious college basketball fans in America, you would find that around 80% hate Duke. Just flat out hate them. At one time, I didn't like Duke either, mainly because I thought they won because they usually had 8 high school All Americans, spread the floor and let the natural advantages they had dominate. It wasn't a complex thing for them to win. I changed my mind and became a Duke fan awhile back, because I thought they were actually over-achieving based on the talent they had. For those of you scoring at home, that makes me a "flip-flopper", or as the Duke haters like to say, a "scum-sucker".
Why do the masses hate Duke so much? Here's one of the million primers from Cory Smith at the Samford Crimson:
"Let's start with one of the most obvious reasons that no one can explain, and that is the players and the coach. The coach with the last name spelled like a first generation Icelander that you have to wear an oversized retainer to pronounce. You know the players, too. JJ Redick, Bobby Hurley, Greg Paulus.
I have heard people say they do not like Duke's players because they are pasty white. I have a hard time with this one since I am of the Caucasian persuasion myself. I don't like Duke's players or Coach K because they come off as just plain smug. Much like most of the students accepted there, the players seem as though they think they are better than the opponents simply because they are at Duke. From Coach K's American Express commercial where he all but declares himself the Gandhi of college basketball to the look of disbelief on his and his players' faces when they are called for a foul while the victim crawls out of the third row of cameras, it is very clear that Duke loves Duke, and they cannot understand why everyone else doesn't as much as they do. That is with the exception of the media, namely Dick Vitale."
The Duke hate started me thinking about other teams and corporations that, over time, the masses love to hate. You know the targets of this hate - it's sports teams like the Yankees, Duke and the Lakers, and corporations like Microsoft, Apple and yes Dorothy - even Google these days.
These teams and companies are good at what they do and provide value, so why do people hate them? Here's my the Capitalist list of the top five things you need to have in place to make people hate you as much as Duke or Microsoft:
1. Lots of Sustained Success - Let's face it, it's not enough to win one title or launch one killer product. No, you need to be successful for a long time - a decade seems to be a nice round number for starters. Think about Microsoft, the Yankees and Duke - they all have success that's measured in decades, not single digit years. You hate them because you're tired of seeing it.
2. A Leader That Gets So Much Press You Can't Help But Hate Them- Coach K and the American Express commercials. Bill Gates back in the day. Steve Jobs in the mock turtleneck - again. George Steinbriener in the luxury box with the Magnum P.I. shades. These images, combined with the other factors, make us pray for an alternative to rise out of the ashes - and eject the golden franchise back to the pack - not for one year, but for eternity.
3. Aggressive and Demonstrative Behavior Designed To Snuff Out the Competition and Keep Them On Top - Here's where it gets interesting. You think all that success is easy to maintain? Nope, in order to stay on top, you've got to be alert and ready to try and dismantle all comers - and everyone else is ALWAYS going to give you their best shot. So, you do what champions do - you dig in, get aggressive and try aggressively to maintain your position. For Microsoft, that meant embedding the browser in the operating system and killing Netscape. For Duke, it means their guards are trying to get themselves ready to play by slapping the floor on defense (like nails on a chalkboard for all the Duke haters) or holding the follow-through on their shot for an extra two seconds. You're on top, you compete to stay there. Sometimes it looks really cocky. Enter more hate...
4. Media Coverage of the Success and Culture - Apart from the press coverage of the Coach K and Bill Gates leader types, sustained success also brings one thing for sure - 24 hour coverage of the culture of the winning company/program. That means at one point, we heard so much about the Redmond campus we could scream. We hear so much about how the Duke program is different due to the academic mission of the University, we're rooting for the diploma mill instead. America loves an underdog, and in the 24/7 media world, Microsoft, Apple and Duke are overexposed from a media perspective. As a result, we hate.
5. The "They Only Win Because They're Rich" Objection - What follows sustained success? Money. Lots of Money. So when Microsoft, Apple, the Yankees and Duke win, they've got resources to throw at problems and competitors. If you're a Royals, Netscape or a NC State fan, what do you point to as the reason you can't get a win against the established power? Money, dude. We hate the winners because they're rich. We're not. We're unlikely to be rich anytime soon. HATE!
It's human nature to hate the winners - the BIG winners. May your hate keep you warm in the winter of your career and help you raise your game.
Or you can just hate without regard to your own performance. Either way is fine with me...