Or bluer, depending on your perspective.
After 13 years, our University of Kentucky Wildcats are back in the Final Four.
This week, plenty of folks will look at the UK men’s basketball program and have lots of different things to say about it. Among them, I imagine:
– This year’s team is nowhere near as talented as last year’s.
– John Calipari is a cheater.
– UK fans are among the most obnoxious in all of sports.
Obviously, these are all hold a negative connotation and are all quite simplistic, but you’re bound to hear them. From the UK side of things, you’ll hear rebutalls for each. I imagine they’ll sound like:
– The players may have been more talented, but this is a better team.
– His Final Four runs at Massachusetts and Memphis may have been vacated, but he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
– University of Tennessee fans are CLEARLY more obnoxious.
All of these arguments are likely to rage on with nary a clear-cut winner in sight. In reality, none of the arguments really matter that much. UK is in the Final Four. It’s a fact.
Those are also arguments for another section of the paper, as are analyses on the games themselves.
Let’s briefly take a closer look at the impact UK basketball has on the state of Kentucky in an overall sense.
It goes without saying that Kentucky is a basketball state. Has been for generations, isn’t likely to change. Blood runs blue from, as they say, Pikeville to Paducah and everywhere in between.
But what exactly does that mean? Like with any other sports organization, it means a wide variety of people love – and hate – the Wildcats.
Since Calipari’s arrival in Lexington in 2009, NBA star Lebron James has outed himself as a big UK fan (whether Cal himself has more to do with that announcement is also up for debate). Sunday, rapper and music producer Jay-Z was photographed celebrating with the ‘Cats in their locker room (Jay-Z is a co-owner of the New Jersey Nets, whose arena was host to Sunday’s game).
Who hates the Big Blue? In general, everyone who doesn’t love the Big Blue. Because of that, those of us in the Big Blue Nation tend to take criticism of our ‘Cats to heart, perhaps more than the players and coaches do at times.
Is there anything wrong with that? As far is our health is concerned, possibly. I know UK fans who get entirely too emotionally invested in each game, regardless of who UK is playing, and a loss occasionally seems like the end of the world. That can’t be good for our hearts.
There is clearly a line which our devotion to Kentucky basketball should never rise above, but I think we can subscribe to a reasonable level of fanaticism.
However, if you live here, the games mean something to you whether you love UK, want them to lose every game or (gasp) aren’t even a sports fan. They mean something to everyone because they mean a lot to so many.
If you’re a UK fan, or even just a basketball fan, enjoy the next week. If not, just remember, there’s only a few games left.
Then, of course, our focus shifts to next year.
Justin McGill is general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.