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FanTake: Experiencing a Duke Game in Section 17
Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s I was often told that it’s impossible to attend a game at Duke. I was told it’s always sold out and you will never get in. They were right. It’s always sold out, but there are ways to attend a Duke game. This article will focus on that experience.
After getting out of college and getting into my career I decided I was going to find a way to attend a game. I did what most fans do when looking for tickets. I turned to Ebay. I ended up paying a crazy amount of money to attend a Christmas break game in 2003. I had an amazing time, but kept thinking there has got to be a better way to get tickets. Over the years I would learn information from message boards (such as on the one on this site) on how to get tickets. Since that time I have been to many games at Cameron including the recent win over Cornell on 12/19/12. Do you want to know how to have a fun experience attending a game at Duke? Keep reading.
It is very tough to get into ACC games at Duke and almost impossible to get into the UNC game. However, during Christmas break most of the Cameron Crazies go home for break and Duke will release tickets to the public. This is an ideal time for fans to come check out a game. These tickets Duke sells to the public are in section 17 where the Crazies are.
When you decide to check out a game at Cameron for the 1st time, get there hours in advance. I have a friend who is a Duke fan (living in Kentucky of all places!) come out to check out a game at Cameron for the 1st time. We got there about 7 hours before game time. This gave us plenty of time to check out the campus. We headed over to the Duke Museum. While checking out the national championship trophies, we ran into Wojo. It was a cool experience to talk with him briefly. We also ran into Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson as well leaving Cameron. The one thing that really impressed me was how friendly the coaches and players are! Even on a busy game day, they were taking time out to talk to the fans. We then headed to the campus bookstore to do some shopping and then went to check out the Duke Chapel.
After checking out the Chapel we headed over to Cameron to get in line. It was 4pm and we were getting in line 2 hours before doors open. If you want to get front row in Section 17 for a Duke, you need to get in line early. There were only 4 guys ahead of us in line. I ended up talking to them and learning that they were from Ohio. It was at that point I realized even more how far the Duke fan base reaches outside the ACC area.
6pm came and we were allowed into Cameron. After sacrificing the time to get in line early, it paid off! We were standing in the front row for the game. As I looked around it was easy to see a majority of the Crazies were gone on break. Finally 7pm comes and it is time for the game to start. The band members and Crazies who were still there quickly got the crowd ready for the tipoff. As I started jumping up and down for the tipoff, I could feel the bleachers shaking. During the game you could see the visitors in Section 17 look toward the graduate student section for help on the cheers. I even had some visitors follow my lead on the cheers. This is not your normal rowdy student section, but credit has to be given to the fans who are doing their best to pick up on the cheers with in seconds. At a commercial break, a camera guy walks over to us and motions his hand for us all to get loud. Next thing I know, a ball goes out of bounds where we are standing. We quickly extend our hands out to taunt the player of the opposing team. At one point in the game I saw myself on the jumbo tron in Cameron. I also received a text message from my friend telling me how he saw me on tv. Duke started the game off slow but quickly got in rhythm in the 2nd half and put the game away. Several roars came from the crowd when dunks and three pointers were made. Duke ended winning the game 88 to 47.
After the game was over, they open the court up for fans to take pictures. As I looked around I could see several fans taking pictures at different spots on the court. You could see the excitement on their faces and it reminded me of my 1st game at Cameron years ago. This is not your normal basketball court. A lot of basketball history has happened on this court. You can look up above and see the names of jerseys retired such as Laettner, Williams, and Redick. Look in a different direction you will see the four National Championship banners. Look another direction and you will see the banner showing Coach K as the all time wins leader. After a game in Cameron, it quickly becomes a photo shoot.
Next we headed outside Cameron and talked with some other fans. We ended up running into most all of the players. The thing that stood out to me again was how friendly the players were and how they took time out to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans. Rasheed Sulaimon even thanked the fans for coming out to the game. After talking with the players, it was time to make the trip back home. I asked my friend who came from Kentucky how was the experience. One word…Awesome!
I have lost count of how many Duke games I have been to over the years, but I can tell you this. Whether it be your 1st experience or 100th experience, it never gets old! If you have never been to Cameron, I strongly recommend checking out a Christmas break game.