Postponing Duke vs. UNC Was the Right Call, but Why Did It Take So Long?

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Postponing Duke vs. UNC Was the Right Call, but Why Did It Take So Long?
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Lives are more important than entertainment.

Duke and North Carolina officials finally figured that out on Wednesday when they postponed the biggest rivalry in college basketball until Feb. 20. And it took longer than it should have.

I'm here in Carolina for the game, and against my better judgment, I left my hotel in Raleigh around 4:30 p.m. ET for the 9 p.m. ET tip. The trip usually takes 30 minutes. I was ready to be on the road for four hours.

Duty called. And as everyone, including the North Carolina governor and UNC officials, said not to get in your car to go to the game, I wasn't going to miss my first UNC-Duke game.

Chuck Burton/Associated Press

That was dumb.

The roads were worse than anything I've ever experienced, and I'm from Kansas City and have also lived in Denver. I've seen snow. Lots of it. But snow changed to sleet here on Wednesday, and that made for sledding on four wheels.

It also made for a lot of waiting.

As I detoured through North Carolina State's campus, students stood outside a frat house with a sign that read "Honk if you hate traffic." There was a lot of honking.

And there were a lot of cars sliding out of control. Wrecks everywhere. You could not drive a football field without seeing a stranded vehicle or 20. Some were left sideways in the middle of the highway.

Finally, as I drove with white knuckles down I-40 toward Chapel Hill, the game was called off because Duke's bus could not get to campus to pick up the Blue Devils.

That's why it got called off. A bus couldn't get there.

Not because it made no sense to put those players on a bus that could have ended up turned over in a ditch. Not because some people, myself included, would be stupid enough to put their lives in danger to watch a game. But because the players were not physically able to get there.

C.J. Moore/Bleacher Report
Stranded cars lined the roads heading into downtown Raleigh.

Steve Kirschner, UNC senior associate athletic director for communications, told us on Tuesday that the game would go on as scheduled as long as the teams and those working the game could safely get there. 

But let's be honest, the real reason the game was going to be played was television. Because ESPN was in town, and you do everything possible to accommodate TV.

If the players could get there—safety be damned—the game would have gone on. And it probably would have if the bus had left sooner. 

My point isn't for you to feel sympathy for this sportswriter. My point is that this game should have been called much earlier in the day. 

I love college basketball. It pays my bills. I'm sad I'm not sitting in the Smith Center. (Fingers crossed my bosses send me back.) And if I were at home in my living room, I probably would have laughed and made jokes about how pathetic it was that Duke couldn't make the short drive to Chapel Hill. Have these people never seen snow?! 

But this storm was real. The danger was real. That was apparent to anyone in the area. 

Only logic didn't prevail on Wednesday in North Carolina. A stalled bus did. 

Hopefully, next time logic wins out. Even prime-time television can wait. 

 

C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR. 

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