Duke Fan Holds Sign Mocking Flint, Mich., Water Crisis at Basketball Game Against MSU

A Duke fan holds a sign mocking the water crisis in Flint, Mich., on Nov. 29, 2016, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Twitter screenshot

Sports fans are notorious for making signs to mock their opponents during games, but a Duke fan took the tradition too far Tuesday night.

The Blue Devils hosted the Michigan State Spartans in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., and a student sitting in the Cameron Crazies student section held a handmade sign that read, “The water tastes better in North Carolina,” a reference to the water-contamination crisis in Flint, Mich. As the News and Observer reports, MSU star freshman Miles Bridges is from Flint.


A spokesperson for Duke told the News and Observer that the school does not permit offensive or distasteful signs in the stadium, and the staff is trying to figure out how the sign got in the building.

Reporters covering the game, which Duke won 78-69, tweeted that the fan had been removed from the game, but the Duke spokesperson did not confirm that.

Meanwhile, fans from Duke’s crosstown rival, the University of North Carolina, heard about the sign and responded by pledging to donate a dollar for every point that Bridges scored, using the hashtag #GivingTuesday. Bridges scored 11 points.

ESPN reports that both Duke and MSU condemned the sign Wednesday.

In a statement sent to ESPN, Michigan State said, “The sign was disgusting and a slam to those who are suffering in our state. We understand the actions of an individual student do not reflect the beliefs of Duke University or its Athletic Department.”


Duke spokesman Cory Walton told ESPN that the entire basketball staff was disturbed by the sign.

“Everyone in our program thinks the sign was reprehensible and disgusting,” Walton said. “That’s 100 percent not in line with the values of our program. Michigan State officials said the sign referenced a difficult situation for people throughout their state.”


As ESPN notes, this wasn’t the first time this week that fans made fun of the situation in Flint. This past weekend, a group of Ohio State fans posed with a banner that read, “Michigan Girls: More Diseased Than Flint Water.”  

Read more at the News and Observer and ESPN.

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