It took me way too long to learn the following: if someone makes an idiotic comment, I don't have to be the one to point it out. I learned to trust that other people in the group heard it and are having the same reaction. There's no need to put the energy on oneself. Maybe share a look or a raised eyebrow with the others who might have heard it and talk about it later. Let the speaker make a fool of themselves.
I've been thinking about gratitude lately. I'm thankful for family and friends, for a dog who is my best buddy, for good neighbors, for folks whom I've never met that support me nonetheless, with a kind comment or even a Patreon donation.
Now, how could I apply that gratitude to Argyle Report? How could I extend that to the audience here, in the form of a New Year's resolution, perhaps?
And then the answer came to me: I'm thankful to be a Tar Heel. I don't have to apologize for it, and I wouldn't have it any other way. At the same time, I can appreciate that others are thankful to be Blue Devils, or members of the Wolfpack, or Demon Deacons or Cavaliers. They are just as passionate as we are, and there's nothing wrong with that. Over the last few years, I've been going to the ACC Football Kickoff and Operation Basketball and talking with not just Carolina student-athletes but those from other schools. They're human beings, too. They eat and drink and breathe the same air that we do. Roddy Jones is one of the nicest people I've ever met, and I'm thrilled that he's moving up the ranks in sports broadcasting. Kam Chancellor is awesome. Just this past October, Lennard Freeman and I were both in the restroom at Operation Basketball, when a lady knocked on the door. "Housekeeping!" she said. "Um, occupied," I replied. At the sink, Freeman and I shared a look in the mirror. "You ready for housekeeping?" I said. He laughed. "Yeah." We smiled. He held the door for me on the way out. Human beings.
Sometimes I get frustrated at the 'ABC' crowd. I'd wager that my Tripartisan Podcast mates Ben Swain (representing Duke) and James Henderson (NC State) each dislike Carolina many more times than they do each other's schools. If we had a Mexican standoff, I'd be pointing one hand at each of them, and they'd be pointing both hands at me. It is what it is. It comes with the territory. It comes with being Carolina.
But what a privilege! How grateful are we that we are Carolina! That doesn't mean that everything that Carolina does is right —I've lamented the bastardization of The Carolina Way in recent years - "If Carolina does it, it's right," is wrong. That's not what Coach Smith meant.— as we've learned over the past seven years. But there's a reason that the ABC fans have to join forces. It's because they're not Carolina.
In fact, Carolina so dominates the thoughts of some that they can't even fully enjoy their own successes without taking a shot at the Heels. To wit, this tweet from a writer at Pack Pride.
Congrats to NC State, Duke and Wake Forest for winning their bowl game. And a special shout out to UNC for sitting at home and watching them all.— Steve Williams (@Steve_PackPride) December 30, 2017
'The enemy of my enemy is my friend,' I suppose is the philosophy behind that tweet. NC State just had their best season in seven years, just won nine games for just the third time since 1994, and yet Carolina so inhabits the mind of this fellow that he just had to tweet that. It got 868 retweets and 2,769 likes, too, so I guess he's not alone in that feeling.
Despite my statement in the first paragraph above, I did have to retweet this:
But I've been thinking about the mindset that so dominates some of our rivals, and I've come to this conclusion: I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for Steve Williams, to be exact. His bio says that he's been covering NC State football recruiting since 1998. Since that time, he's seen his rivals in Chapel Hill win two field hockey national championships, two women's lacrosse national championships, one men's lacrosse national championship, three men's basketball national championships, ten women's soccer national championships, two ITA national indoor women's tennis championships, one ITA national indoor men's tennis championship, make appearances in six College World Series appearances, seven men's basketball Final Fours and two women's basketball Final Fours.
NC State has no team national championships in that time. The Wolfpack baseball team did make it to Omaha in 2013, where they were eliminated by Carolina.
Carolina has 72 ACC team championships, 12 basketball regular season championships, five EAGL gymnastics team titles and a division championship in football.
NC State has 33 ACC team championships and five EAGL titles. The Wolfpack have been particularly dominant in cross country and wrestling. They have had three individual wrestling champions, a women's diving national champion and a men's golf individual champion. But no championships in men's or women's basketball. No division championships in football. No championships in baseball. Steve Williams and Pack Pride haven't had much to do in the postseason.
I say all this not to brag, but to remember to be grateful for what we have in Chapel Hill: a thriving, well-rounded athletic program that is intent on winning championships for itself. We have a fan base that appreciates its teams and does not have to compare itself to anyone else. Carolina has won 265 ACC championships since the conference was founded. Maryland is second at 196, and they're not winning any more anytime soon. Among active ACC schools, Virginia is 135 championships behind Carolina. Appreciate that.
They hate us because they ain't us. We don't have to respond.
This year, express gratitude for that.