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Exactly why this Victory Bell thing was bad

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Though it has since returned to relative normalcy, the original unveiling of this year’s Victory Bell caused a stir, and not for unfounded reasons.

NCAA Football: Duke at North Carolina
This feels right.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We all know that the rivalry between UNC and Duke football has been pretty soft in the last quarter-century, with the Tar Heels owning the series 22-3 since 1990. Sure, Duke finally has a legitimate football coach and has had some talented players go through in the past few years, but last year’s team was supposed to be good and still got embarrassed 66-31 in a game that was even more lopsided than the final score. Nobody, however, expected it to get participation-medal level soft:

Several of my colleagues have written and spoken their perspectives on this occurrence, but I’d like to submit my own opinion as to why this is so awful. The primary reason, as alluded to above, is that it seems to reflect the participation-medal sports culture that so many of us decry. Duke does not deserve equal billing to UNC on a trophy stand that they have earned the right to twice in the last 26 years. They’re not equals in this rivalry right now; they haven’t earned that status. They were thoroughly dispatched the last time they challenged for it. Why, then, does this design pretend that they’re relevant? It’s insulting.

Secondly, it just looks so... friendly. There’s no animosity, no clashing of logos, no sense of competition at all. It’s just the two colors and the two logos, side by side, and if I hadn’t been raised in North Carolina where it’s drilled into us that these shades of blue are necessarily oppositional, I’d think that the artist thought those two colors just went well together and created a nice pattern. This bell symbolizes a rivalry, not a coalition. Plus, it just makes me cringe to see those images side by side. The whole thing looks more like an art project conducted by somebody with no knowledge of the ACC than the symbol of the most passionate rivalry in the United States.

So it was good to see AD Bubba Cunningham announce, albeit in a classically 60-year-old-on-Twitter way (that failed attempt at a hashtag is adorable), that the bell and sled would be painted. So tonight, let’s turn it the right shade of blue and remind the bad guys they’re irrelevant. Go Heels!