Hey Cameron Crazies: Can Duke replace you?

Sat, Feb 5
10:56
AM ET
DukeAP Photo/Gerry BroomeHey Crazies: watch your back before you're outsourced in the name of cheap replacements.

This is how economic displacement takes place. Slowly, then all at once. A successful, made-in-the-USA business makes a few seemingly innocuous peeps about building overseas brand awareness. Next comes a modest trip abroad, ostensibly for "cultural exchange." What follows is inevitable: a foreign office, a handful of joint ventures, construction of a major plant and the ultimate, job-killing shuttering of facilities back home, because frankly, the competitive pressure of the 24/7 global marketplace -- read: cheap labor and lax environmental laws -- leaves global megacorp's teary-eyed, stuffed-wallet management with no other choice.

Don't think it can't happen to you, Cameron Crazies.

According to a report in the Duke Chronicle, the university's basketball team may travel to China and compete against the country's national squad -- possibly to help the school achieve its open goal of strengthening its brand in Yao Ming's homeland.

B who's to say this is a one-off idea?

Think about it: The Crazies require the construction of an elaborate on-campus tent village that requires bureaucratic bed-check regulation and considerable Wi-Fi and pizza delivery expenditures, an unsightly shantytown standing in sharp contrast to the verdant, leafy-green milieu featured in the school's marketing materials. As both university students and (mostly) American citizens, the Crazies are entitled to legal and cultural protections, almost like an entrenched union; if and when they embarrass the school, little can be done about it beyond genial pleading.

More to the point, the Crazies have slipped in recent years.

Now consider the logical alternative: replacement Duke basketball fans from China. The benefits are obvious. Staggeringly so. First, the country has proven itself remarkably adept at mass-producing student fans to fulfill basic spectator tasks without the messy, expensive overhead of creating team loyalty and/or teaching people what is actually happening on the field of play. Second, while the Crazies are famously creative and coordinated, they simply can't compete with their Chinese counterparts when it comes to intimidating mass demonstrations. Third, replacement fans are both pliant and without leverage -- they can be hired and fired at any time, and directed to comply with administration-approved messages and actions.

This includes rooting for Duke football.

Given all of the above, Page 2 offers a friendly warning to current and future Crazies: Enjoy your potentially new and bigger Blue Devils bandwagon, loaded up with Chinese comrades. But make sure to watch your backs. If the price is right, you can be replaced. Just like the rest of us.

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