TO HATE LIKE THIS
IS TO BE HAPPY FOREVER
It had long been
Will Blythe's wish to make Mike Krzyzewski cry. Which only serves as a
reminder: Be careful what you wish for. While interviewing the Duke basketball
coach last year, Blythe, a former editor at Esquire, did indeed make him weep.
Yet Blythe also had a distressing epiphany: Coach K is not half as bad as he
hoped. A North Carolinian and a 1979 graduate of Chapel Hill, Blythe roots for
his Tar Heels as passionately as his forebears rooted for Stonewall Jackson. He
roots just as passionately against UNC's rivals, the conveniently named Blue
But why? Not long
ago Blythe was asked that very question by a nine-year-old boy named Harry (his
girlfriend's son). "Because," he patiently explained, Dukies are
"terrible people. Detestable. Every last one of them. Especially the
coach." But an uncomfortable notion gnawed at Blythe. Perhaps, he thought,
"I am a sick, sick man." So he decided to set sail on the sea of his
own spite, as it were--to take a Hate Duke World Tour that would allow "the
journalist in me to study the beast in me."
He visited Duke
players, fans and coaches, hoping to prove that they deserved the enmity he had
heaped upon them. The result is a hilarious and (believe it or not) remarkably
wise chronicle of the UNC-Duke rivalry--one that, fortunately for Blythe,
coincided with the Tar Heels' national championship last year.
To Hate Like This
(SI, March 8, 2004) is the sort of book you don't want to say too much about,
for fear of spoiling the surprises. Briefly, Blythe's verdict on the Dukies is
that only the law students are truly loathsome. Most of the undergraduates, so
obnoxious in front of TV cameras, apparently undergo a profound change the
moment ESPN leaves Durham: They study hard and mean well. Even sharpshooting
guard J.J. Redick, who is so cocky that SI once dubbed him "the most
reviled" player in college basketball, is utterly different in his dorm
room: thoughtful, sensitive and likeable. Finally, there's Krzyzewski, whom
Blythe has referred to as Ratface and The Evil One. Asked why he's been so
successful, Coach K, fighting back tears, tells Blythe he owes it all to ...
his saintly mother! How can you hate a guy who loves his mother?
something detestable about Duke, Blythe seizes on Speedo Guy, a corpulent,
demonstrative fan who appears at Cameron Indoor Stadium wearing nothing but a
microscopic bathing suit. Blythe notes with horror that "whenever Speedo
Guy jumped up and down, his pendulous, blue-painted breasts jumped up and down,
too. He and his pendulous breasts were not in sync ... which meant that when
Speedo Guy was coming down, his breasts were still going up and appeared to be
With fans like
that, Blythe concludes, hating Duke is just too satisfying a hobby to
relinquish--though he frets over the fate of his soul. So much so that he asks
Columbia professor Robert Thurman, an expert in Tibetan Buddhism, "whether
hatred for Duke might cause me to be unduly reincarnated . . . as a praying
mantis or a screech owl." The answer, delivered by the professor in a
polite, compassionate, roundabout way: yes.