They emerged from dark, gothic towers and veritable pits of mud and disease to form a curling line around the tented, makeshift village, waiting for the monitors to approve them for entry. Every now and then, a small group would explode in a rage of anticipation, screaming and pumping their fists threateningly. Indeed, there was something amiss last Thursday as the Duke men's basketball team took on N.C. State.
But it wasn't the bizarre campus cultural phenomenon of K-ville, and it wasn't the war paint or the belligerent chants of the Cameron Crazies. It was a beast of a different color. Literally.
Students on Duke's campus arranged for the basketball game to be the culminating event in a day of festivities supporting Focus the Nation, a national teach-in day aimed to spark discussion about global warming. Duke Students for Sustainable Living passed out green T-shirts to the Crazies, sporting a green-clad Blue Devil and the slogan "Bleed Blue. Live Green." Coach Mike Krzyzewski donned a green ribbon, and the Blue Devil mascot traded in his blue for green.
The religion of the Cameron Crazies is a complicated one, requiring the unwavering faith and commitment to all things Duke Basketball, at almost any cost. These kids wait in the cold for hours, days, months even, to step into the sacred stands of Cameron Indoor Stadium and show the country there's more to life than straight As and a future job on Wall Street.
In a similar spirit on the opposite side of campus, a group of ambitious, eco-friendly students set out to harness this same Crazie energy for their green cause. And what better way to demonstrate that Duke is as equally committed to sustainable living as it is to basketball than by bringing the two together?
In addition to the unusual color scheme, Duke, in partnership with NativeEnergy, bought carbon credits to offset the ecological footprint of the game's energy emissions, and students recycled beverage containers and pizza boxes, which are usually tossed into the dumpster.
Let's be honest—maybe this didn't actually do too much to help reduce global warming by itself, but at least the Cameron Crazies made a statement on national television to help start conversation about protecting the Earth.
When halftime rolled around, Duke was lagging behind the red-shirted Wolfpack by nine points, and the Crazies started getting cranky. The halftime show, in which the green Blue Devil was supposed to teach a little Blue Devil about recycling and saving energy, was interrupted by thunderous chants of "No More Green!" and someone in the crowd explained to me about the Crazies: "They think that's why we're losing!"
Green shirts were hurled onto the court and the halftime show slinked away. When the second half began, the stands were more blue than green; even the mascot was back in blue in solidarity with the Crazies' desperation in such troubled times.
And a miraculous thing happened: Duke pulled ahead and cruised to the finish for a comfortable 92-72 victory. It's clear that the religion of the Cameron Crazies has a divine power that nonbelievers may not understand. Thank heavens the Cameron Crazies had the wisdom to (literally) toss aside this well-intentioned albeit futile effort; it's likely the team never could have rebounded if the fans were distracted by a dissident faction of students hoping to show the country that there's more to their school than basketball.