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Don't Talk To Deems May About Basketball

I'd say the former Tar Heel and current member of the UNC radio call-in show is a bit touchy about those basketball jokes during football season:

Then there are the ones that are the worst - the ones that say, "I don't care about football, I just go watch until basketball starts, we'll never be good at football, this is a basketball school, etc., etc." These are the types that I loathe. They are the cancers of the UNC program. They are the ones that inflict the most damage to the players’ psyche and hurt UNC’s recruiting more than anything. I went through this when UNC had back-to-back 1-10 seasons and you never get over it. The players from those days harbor ill feelings to this day and you can ask any of my teammates and they'll tell you the same thing. For those out there that feel this way, please don't ever speak to me or anybody associated with our football program - keep your miserable pathetic thoughts to yourself.

First all, I am pretty sure telling people their thoughts are "miserable" and " pathetic" is not something you find in How To Friends and Influence People. Apparently they did not teach tact during the Mack Brown era at UNC. Nevertheless, I do understand what May's ultimate point is but before we get there let's talk about reality of the Tar Heel sports culture as illustrated by this graph of visitors to this blog during the past 12 months:


The huge spike of traffic coming between February and April of this year is basketball related. UNC is a basketball school and its fans are mostly basketball junkies, some of which are desperate for anything basketball related. In some cases you have folks who are UNC basketball only and actually claim allegiance to other schools for football(which also happens in the Duke fan base.) The reality is UNC has a winning basketball program and at this very moment arguably the best program in the country. That is tough to compete with and since it has been going on for 50 years, it is somewhat ingrained into the DNA of the Tar Heel fan base.

That being said, I understand what May is saying though I think it could have been phrased better. While there is a likely static reality concerning the level of passion UNC fans might have for football versus that for basketball, I also think it is counterproductive to express the kinds of things May complains about here. Saying "well at least we have basketball" or "football will never be any good" adds nothing to the conversation. Those of us who take a vested interesting in both football and basketball would like to see success in both. Yes, we are probably all basketball fans first and foremost but I have an interest in seeing the football team win and even get to a level where competing for an ACC title is a possibility. Will it ever happen? I have no idea and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from around the country that says you can only maintain basketball and football at a high level for only so long before the secondary sport in the pair falls back to earth. Ohio State and Florida are perfect examples of this, Texas on the other hand appears to be a slight exception to the rule but that could very well be based on resources.

Regardless of that, I am not going to dismiss football and assume there can never be something relevant there. The reality is basketball will always be top dog in Chapel Hil because that is where the heart of the fan base is at not to mention a boatload of tangible national success in the form of NCAA titles. There is too much in the way of rich tradition in Tar Heel hoops for it to be any other way. However, the love for and success of UNC basketball should not preclude a fan from wanting more out of football. If it does then perhaps the best option, not to mention the most respectful as it pertains to the guys who are giving it there all out there, is to keep those opinions to yourself.