I am a State fan. There is a plausible sincerity to these words, an earnestness that rings poetic.
To mention these words is to seemingly reveal your character, the very essence of your soul. It is shameless and self-affirming, an unabashed sense of pride about whom you are, perhaps a tad arrogant, however devoid of elitism. To state these words is to affirm that your loyalty is absolute and unwavering; you have laid claim to a title that commands respect because you are genuine – a flailing sense of dedication is not tolerated. There is a subtle swagger in the way you say it, a bluster that only another true State fan can ever entirely comprehend.
And still yet, as a State fan, you are not exactly teeming with bliss, but rather a desperate longing for satisfaction, appeasement. There exists within you an undeniable complexity, a dichotomy to your nature common among Wolfpack Nation. You are patient and forgiving and doggedly loyal to a fault, but you are marked by a looming forlornness of unfulfilled expectations and dashed hopes. Yet somehow you are decidedly resilient, having borne the stigma of the 90s and shunned any of its accompanying shame.
And of course, you hate Carolina; it’s inherent, a black or white issue: You cannot be a true State fan and have even the slightest inkling of any tolerance for the team O’er the Hill. That is undeniable, scientific fact.
I hate Carolina. There’s a solemn sincerity in these words as well, although they might not be quite as poetic. I hate them with such a fiery passion that I delight as much in a loss for them as I do a win for us. I so despise losing to them, that when we do, the trauma takes days off my life.
But do I even know why I hate them so much?
See, I don’t hate Carolina because the bastards are perpetual media darlings or because everyone gushes over their storied and hallowed tradition of excellence or because they had a legendary coach that unified them for decades or because they have won five (still counting as of today) national championships and 15 ACC titles.
I don’t hate the Well or the Bell or the supposed magnificent aura of the Dean E. Smith Center.
I don’t despise them for the fact that even when we are better than them they usually find a way to beat us or that Tyler Hansbrough never blinks nor fouls. I don’t wallow in the desperation of the fact that Ishua Benjamin always seems to get bumped out of bounds with less than a minute to play leading to a puzzling jump ball call or that there’s always a Jim Knight around to take points off the scoreboard at a crucial moment.
I don’t deplore them for hanging in the rafters the jersey of any player who ever plopped his sweaty ass on the bench and I could care less if they have a nationally-exposed, bitter, storied rivalry with Duke and act indifferent towards State.
I don’t hate their pseudo-elitist personas and I don’t hate the media-bias in favor of them from Manteo to Murphy.
I don’t hate that anywhere I’ve ever been I could find a Carolina hat (including, most recently, on the ski slopes of Italy) or that everyone that moves to North Carolina always cheers for them because of “how good they are.”
I don’t despise the fact that I cringe whenever someone says “Tar Heel State” and that when I’m governor someday my duties will require that I pretend to be proud and excited that they won a championship when the team visits the mansion while secretly I’d like to build a wall around Chapel Hill and fill it with water.
I don’t hate that Carolina fans have no idea what it’s like to endure true frustration because after two years of mediocrity they solved the problem.
I don’t hate them because we’ll never be close to where they are in basketball and will never consistently dominate them in football, yet we’re unwilling to ever accept that reality.
I don’t hate Carolina for any of the aforementioned trivial reasons.
Wait, that’s precisely why I hate them.