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Fayette-Mom: A house divided

Posted March 14, 2011

Jennifer Joyner

My children are growing up in a divided home.

You see, if college basketball is a religion, then my husband and I are disciples. But while my sanctuary is cloaked in the most brilliant shade of royal blue, Michael’s house of worship is of the sky blue variety.

Hello, my name is Jennifer. I am a Duke fan, and my husband roots for Carolina.

I wish I could tell you that we handle our sports differences with maturity, but nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve been married 17 years and we are still unable to meet each other halfway; I despise all things Tarheel and Michael loathes Duke.

On one hand, if this is the only problem in your marriage, you should probably consider yourself lucky. However, it makes the months of December through April especially tense.

And what about the kids?

We’ve joked that in order to be fair, our children would just have to be N.C. State fans, but somehow, that hasn’t happened. We briefly thought about splitting them up — each of us taking one child and starting the basketball brainwashing early, but somehow that just didn’t seem right. We finally decided to simply allow them to choose on their own, without our influence. A step toward maturity, if you will.

The kids know Mommy loves the Blue Devils and Daddy’s favorite is UNC. They watch the games with us, taking delight in our reactions to slam dunks and missed free throws. From time to time, we ask them if they have a favorite team. Without fail, they look at me, look at Michael, and then refuse to pick a side. They are as neutral as they can be.

I suppose that’s what’s best, even if I am wistful when I see a little girl in a Duke cheerleader uniform. Some of my favorite memories of growing up are watching college basketball as a family, and I want that for my children, too, especially when their parents love the game so. So we keep the negative comments to a minimum and we wait for our kids to tell us where their allegiances lie.

But since my kids don’t read this blog, I can freely say GO DUKE!!!!!

Sorry Michael, this is Go Ask MOM.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.


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  • this is my Screen Name Mar 15, 2011

    I, too, am in a split marriage. We are divided the same way you are - he pulls for light blue, I pull for the right blue. We agreed that we can say what we want about our team, but nothing can said or taken personally, and no one sleeps on the sofa after the games. Our vows were for better or worst. I'm quite sure the Duke/UNC rivalry was silently included in that vow.

  • RunningBlue Mar 15, 2011

    I feel for you. I'm a Duke fan & thankfully, my husband doesn't have any ACC prefernce. Therefore, I've been free to 'gently guide' our son towards Duke.

  • Jammer512 Mar 15, 2011

    Having moved here from Ohio, I picked State and Duke many years ago. My 2 boys however were influenced by their grandfater (my father in law) and root for UNC. My daughter on the other had follow me with Duke and State. However we all agree on one thing Ohio State.

  • Landonsmom Mar 15, 2011

    This is also the case in our home, I am an NC State fan and my husband is a UNC fan. We too said we wouldn't influence our son's (he is almost 5) decision in this and let him make his own choice. Naturally he is a daddy's boy so I figured he would follow his daddy in being a tar heel but he hasn't as of yet, he has decided to be a Duke fan! We are stumped!

  • snowl Mar 15, 2011

    Life is good when you don't care about sports. "It's only a game", that's what I always say....;)

  • kittiboo Mar 15, 2011

    Oh, and we ALL say, "Boo Dookies!" =)

  • kittiboo Mar 15, 2011

    LOL! Our house is divided, too, as I'm a UNC grad and hubby is an NC State grad. Luckily I don't care a whole lot about sports, but I do secretly gloat about how much better UNC's basketball team is! Our daughter is only 3, and she sometimes says she likes Carolina, other times it's Go State! We have one of those "College 101" board books for each school for her. I'd love for her to go to Carolina eventually, but for now, at least we all can cheer for the Hurricanes, right?

  • pdeloatch Mar 15, 2011

    Talk about a mixed marriage! Stand firm in your beliefs, Jennifer. While being flexible in a marriage is often a good thing, we must stand our ground in rooting for Duke!

  • carolinagirl28 Mar 14, 2011

    Your husband sounds like a very smart man!!