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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Demand for Duke Lacrosse Gear Soars

Click here to read Darren Rovell's article on

After the movie "Animal House" came out in the late 1970's, toga parties were the rage at most college campuses around the country.

What's next, "Duke Lacrosse" parties at the most misogynistic of fraternities across the land?

Look, I live in a Philadelphia suburb, and the subject of Terrell Owens is a sore one. Owens' major transgressions were that he threw his teammates under the bus and was generally difficult to coach. For those sins, he was released. Plenty of people spent good money on #81 jerseys when he arrived in town, and you hardly find a sole wearing an Owens jersey. You'll see jerseys of retired players, players who were permitted to hit the free agent market and even disappointments, but you don't see people wearing T.O. jerseys.

And T.O. didn't come close to committing a crime, getting drunk in public or urinating in a public place. Yet, his jerseys are shunned objects, available for bottom-basement prices at Wal-Mart and populating thrift stores in the five-county Philadelphia area, South Jersey and much of Delaware.

Even if you argue vociferously that the serious charges leveled against two Duke lacrosse players are just charges and await their day in court, the fact remains that 15 of the 47 players have alcohol-related misdemeanors for on-and off-campus behavior, their coach had been warned about the team's overall conduct last year and was fired within the past month. The Duke student newspaper has called for the firing of the athletic director. Even if you say that the Duke lacrosse players haven't been convicted of felonies, their misdemeanors and general comportment have been such that you really wouldn't want to don a Duke lacrosse jersey, at least at this time. I can see family members and team members wearing their jerseys because they're either team members or connected to the team, they want to support the team, they hope that Duke lacrosse survives, and, yes, if it's just a "Duke lacrosse" jersey you could be supporting the women's team as well as the men's.

But still. Sales are up by about 400% or so? Why is that? Are sales up because people thrive on courtroom drama, on fights at hockey games, crashes at auto races? Are sales up because people have found the Duke women's lacrosse team and want to support them nationally? Or are sales up because somehow the Duke men's team has a perverse street cred that some people think is cool or even funny?

Given that these sales are up, I'm surprised that there isn't some vendor who isn't trying to contract with the federal government to get a license for all of the prison names and sell prison gear? Then again, while I like Googling topics, perhaps those brands exist and I just haven't caught up to the times yet. At the risk of not offending the Duke faithful, no, I don't equate even the entire Duke lacrosse team with violent felons that populate high-security correctional institutions, and I am not indicting Duke for the bad actions of a few.

There's freedom of expression and good taste. Even in an enlightened environment such as Duke, it's hard to reconcile the two.

Amazing, isn't it, that today a single college has both the best and worst brands in the country.

Duke basketball is a gold standard.

Duke men's lacrosse needs to get some standards quickly.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a dork. People are buying the jereys and supporting the FALSELY ACCUSED PLAYERS because no self respecting American can stand to see an over zealouz prosecutor and a lying TWO BIT STRIPPER bring down some REAL UPSTANDING AMERICANS.

5:27 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Must have hit a nerve with you. It's one think to stand up and defend yourselves, but it's another thing to have a little humility. This squad's lack of humility is what got them into trouble in the first place. Maybe those who don the jersey should think about that. If you've read all of my posts on this subject, you'll see that I've been careful to distinguish between the overall conduct of the team (which led to Coach Pressler's dismissal) and the rape charges. Making the comments that you did only underscores that the brand name "Duke Lacrosse" still has a serious identity problem.

11:09 AM  
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