Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. After two-plus weeks full of eye-rolls, boos, and screaming, we've arrived at the matchup everyone's waited for: the Most Annoying College Basketball Fanbase Chumpionship! The finalists may have been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament, but that doesn't mean they can't take home the (dis)honors of a win here.
Scroll to the bottom to vote.
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 1 Florida
As befits their insufferable fans, each opponent fought ignobly. Duke crushed Indiana, 81% to 19% in the Foul Four, as the Hoosiers shed a single tear for their glorious past, when their corn-fed fans were unmatched annoyers and the interstate highway system wasn't fully built out.
Florida’s 66% to 34% victory over Virginia—coincidentally, the score of many a Virginia basketball loss—was surprising to those of us exposed to the daily nightmare of Cavaliers fans defending the bloodless style of basketball their team plays. You have to believe that someday, Virginia will scale the summit of awful fandom, but for now, defeat at the hands of a bigger program with recently-won NCAA titles is the only truth that matters.
Before you cast your deciding vote, here's a brief primer on these two heinous programs:
Skits. They were supposed to die at summer camp, but they persist in the heinous halls of the O'Connell Center, where Florida basketball fans just can’t help themselves. Imagine that one friend who's always inviting you to his improv show, only there are 5,000 of them. The jokes, the japes, the high concept executions that are fun for participants but eye-rolling for everyone else on Earth. You looking for goofy synchronized dancing? Florida’s fan section has you. You want football players wearing their pads to a basketball game? Florida will stoop to that.
Anything to distract from the display on the hardwood for the last decade. Their basketball program has fallen on hard times, probably only the fourth best program in the state of Florida alone over the past decade. In a state where college sports are more important than life itself, this is a low-point for Gator fans, who have taken the stress of being at the bottom and turned that stress into a group spectacle in the stands.
The Florida fan is not in the arena as a mere observer. They're a participant in a broader play, a massive delusional distraction from anything actually happening ON the court. Gator fans: just watch the game! It’s fun! Sports are fun! You have to hope, as a normal basketball fan, that the game might someday matter as much as 40 minutes of nonstop Gator Chomping and "remember when?" Then again, Joakim Noah's not walking through that door. Al Horford's not walking through that door. This is all they have.
At its base level, this entire tournament was leading to this moment. If there’s something annoying a basketball fan can do, somewhere on this planet, a Cameron Crazy is doing it. You want high snobbery class warfare? Sure, of course, private school Duke fans will chant “YOU WILL WORK FOR US SOMEDAY!” at public school NC Staters. Have they fashioned a tent city, complete with University rules and regulations, to acquire tickets? Yeah, of course. Do they make sport of fat-shaming their opponents, and do they have a history of throwing food on the court to really bring the mockery home? Obviously. Did they create the Coach K industrial complex, its business books and lecture series that make grown men weep out of excessive regard for their coach who refuses to admit his hair is grey? Yes, of course. What about ritualized chants for all kinds of specific events, including literally inventing “AIIIIIR BAAAAAALL” thereby infecting every basketball arena in the world? Blame the Blue Devils faithful.
Every Duke student earns at least a minor in Annoying Studies. It goes beyond a mere label, into the realm of making yourself the monster everyone wishes you were. All for the sake of living up to the standard set by your forefathers.
Most of the programs in this tournament have had their edges filed off by some run of crushing defeats or bad seasons. Not Duke. The Blue Devils are good for a NCAA title every half decade or so, owing to their excellent recruiting and, yes, the expertise of their coach. You'd think a dry spell would suck the venom out of their fans, but it never comes. Their fans count on this inevitability, their egos swelling with every blue chip freshman class.
To their "credit," Duke basically invented cheering sections, with the chanting and the signs and the skits. If you enjoy all that stuff when your team wins, you probably owe Duke a debt of gratitude. But, please, let's consider the zero-sum game of annoying fan warfare. Is what Duke brought into this world really good? Shouldn't we do without it and just cheer for our teams like normal people?
We can hope the "winning" fanbase will take the result to heart and mellow out a bit. But it's not likely. They'll wear it as a badge of honor, inventing new ways to live up to the title. Which of these two fanbases will sink to new lows? Can anyone actually beat Duke? Vote below and make your voice heard.
Keep up with all the NCAA Tournament action on DIRECTV.