It is hard to pinpoint a collective emotion of the Big Blue Nation right now. When a sport fan’s team is struggling, they commonly claim to be numb to the pain–they feel apathetic. Maybe that is true for some, in fact, it is probably true to some extent for most. Unfortunately for the health of the average Kentucky basketball fan, the words, “I don’t even care anymore”, are more of a coping mechanism than a truism.
If we’re to be honest, Kentucky basketball fans aren’t capable of not feeling some type of strong emotion in regards to their team. This year, “I don’t even care anymore”, reads to me, “Wow, this is so shocking and I truly have no idea how to feel.” After each loss, Kentucky fans seem to be punching in the dark, trying to decide exactly how to handle this surprisingly disappointing season. They don’t know how to feel. Here are the most common emotions I’ve encountered while drudging through the muck of various UK messaging board communities and during conversations with fans. There is probably some logic in nearly all of the garbled emotions felt by Kentucky fans. I don’t intend to disparage how anyone feels–that’s the point I guess–confusion without uniformity is the common-thread.
1. The person who claims to be apathetic. I have been this person. Really (I say to myself)? You care so little, that in the middle of a beautiful Saturday, you are alone at your computer, pouting and scouring the internet. If you didn’t care, A. you wouldn’t be on an internet message board attempting to cope with the loss and B. you definitely wouldn’t take minutes of your valuable time to actually post how little you care before divulging all of the things that have upset you about this team. The guy who truly doesn’t care is the one you won’t hear from. He is also the one not reading this post. You are not him or her.
Accept it: You, like the rest of us, care very much.
2. The person who is still holding out hope. This person is still lucky enough to be living in a much happier time. He still believes that the Cats will turn the corner. Anyone who doesn’t think this is a bad fan. He has many good qualities and it is sometimes very tempting to agree with him. However, it is usually more tempting to believe this person is delirious, depending on the extent of his ramblings. He is usually found putting the loss in “perspective” for everyone, usually by pointing to similar losses by other teams (usually Kansas) and by drawing awkward comparisons between this Kentucky team and successful teams from the past. No one is exactly sure what this person’s expectations are. Does he still think we can win a national championship? Or is his hope more attainable–say, he believes that Kentucky will make it to the second weekend of the tournament.
3. The person who thinks this is the worst team he has ever watched play and he can’t wait for all of the players to leave. He is the only person of this bunch that I truly can’t relate to at all. You know this guy. He blathers on and on about how we will be much better next year when James Young, Julius Randle, and hopefully (in his delusional mind), the Harrison twins leave. He claims that the twins are cancers to team chemistry and that James Young has no basketball skills. In his mind, the team would be better off without them all.
The Harrison twins catch the brunt of this guy’s anger. I understand that times have changed and that the freshmen excuse is old to most–but sorry, it is fact. THEY ARE FRESHMEN. And for freshmen, each of them have had good years. The Harrison twins would go a long way to making next year’s team very good. I for one, really, really hope and think that they will stay.
4. The level-headed guy. This is where most Kentucky fans fall, despite what rivals may say and despite this person’s relative rarity in the online community following a loss. They discuss this teams woes in a matter-of-fact and intelligent way. They are rightfully disappointed and surprised by this season. They are frustrated by the past two teams but believe the necessary program adjustments will be made in the future and that Calipari has learned from the experience. They also understand the difficulties faced by this young team. Their expectations have evolved with the season. They are hopeful that the Cats can make a positive showing in the SEC tournament followed with a respectable performance in the NCAA tournament.
The level-headed guy has some concerns for the program but still wholeheartedly believes that John Calipari is far and away the best coach for the University of Kentucky and would be very hard to replace. They remember the outstanding 22-year-career John Calipari has had and his unbelievable run thus far at Kentucky. These more expansive factors, not this season, are better indicators of what is to come at Kentucky.
The spectrum of emotions and beliefs obviously don’t end with this list. It seems that no two people feel the same way. The wild expectations that didn’t seem so far-fetched at the beginning of this year have led to an unprecedented situation for Kentucky fans.