It's not really true, but the perception exists that some things are ever enduring in popularity.
Duke basketball under Mike Krzyzewski, I once thought, was also "recession proof."
I was stunned when a caller to my afternoon show here in D.C. said that Duke - the GOLD STANDARD of college basketball enthusiasm - was having a tough go of attendance.
I mocked him, and said: "Harumph. Really??"
Now mind you, Duke is NOT having problems selling out their 9,000+ throwback gymnasium. Yet. They are just losing the fervent support of the so-called "Crazies." The students get 1300 seats allotted to them, and they are down to about 500-600 students per game actually claiming them.
“The enthusiasm hasn’t been there,” Forman said. “[Head coach Mike Krzyzewski] has had to drum up enthusiasm himself, which he shouldn’t have to do. The students should be doing that themselves... whether 500 or 1,200 of them are there.”
One of the biggest causes of the declining attendance is the students’ misconception of the time commitment involved, Garrett said, along with the increasing prevalence and popularity of online streaming on sites like WatchESPN.com.
“The rumor we’ve had to deal with over the past couple years is that it’s hard to get into games, and if you show up half an hour before tipoff you won’t get in,” Garrett said. “We’ve been trying really hard... to really debunk those rumors because they’re simply not true.”
Another part of the problem has been an underwhelming home schedule over the past several years due to a down ACC and marquee nonconference matchups moving to Madison Square Garden. Duke has played just three ranked nonconference teams in Cameron Indoor Stadium over the last four years, and only three ACC teams are currently placed in the Associated Press Top 25.
Diminishing student attendance is a national trend, Forman said, and collegiate sports marketing departments have been combating it in a variety of ways. Many have altered their in-game experiences to become more engaging during stoppages in play, especially timeouts and halftime. Over the last few years, Duke has begun incorporating highlight videos, player introductions and popular music into its pregame festivities, but the marketing department currently has no plans to significantly alter the in-game atmosphere.I once said that even if you HATE Duke basketball, you owed it to yourself to go to a came at Cameron Indoor. It's a throwback, old school, melt-your-head kind of experience that doesn't exist anywhere else in sports. And someday, may be gone.
Once upon a time, ANY Duke game was a very challenging scalper ticket. There just wasn't many of them to be had. Now, I suppose, your chances are better than ever of getting in. But, if the vaunted "Cameron Crazies" aren't so crazy anymore, then your impression of the place, might not be as impressive as I once remembered it.