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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What makes UK fans like we are

No matter if you are a fan of UK or a fan of a rival school, you have to admit that UK fans are some of the most unique in the country in their fanhood.  They go to greater lengths and at greater costs to learn everything they can, and feel a part of the program.  Some people would call that insane, and we call it passion.  But why exactly are we the way we are?  What has made this fanbase so passionate about the college team we follow?  I have knocked it down to 4 major and 1 minor thing:  


-Let’s be honest, in the grand scheme of the 50 states, Kentucky has very little going for it compared to most.  We basically have two “major” cities in Lexington and Louisville, zero professional sports teams, a declining horse industry, and a large chunk of the state is rural.  Point is, there is not a lot of things to get involved in with the state of Kentucky.  Which is why so many people turn their attention to UK sports.  It is there year-round, if you included recruiting.  It really has no competition inside state borders (besides UL) sports-wise.  The state is a perfect scenario for extreme passion of one major school, and Kentucky happens to be it.


-Yes, WKU and EKU and Morehead State and Murray State are Division-1 programs.  But in reality, Louisville is the only program that can even sniff the fanbase that Kentucky has.  And even for that program, the fanbase is basically confined to 1 county.  The other 119 counties are dominated by Kentucky.  Even in North Carolina, there is UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, and NC State all there to split the population.  Indiana has IU, Purdue, and Notre Dame, not to mention to expanding Butler fanbase.  Point being, there isn’t any serious competition to the actual number of UK fans.


-Simply put, if UK hadn’t won so big for so long, the fanbase wouldn’t be there.  We don’t just follow the program because of pride of our state school.  We follow because they reward us with wins.  Now, if Kentucky went on a 10-year long string of missing the NCAA Tournament, would the fanbase leave?  I don’t know.  The fanhood might be too embedded in the people for that to happen, but what built this fanbase so large and passionate was wins and more wins.


-Families take pride in their UK fanhood in this state.  When Kentucky wins, fans feel like they win and their life is better.  When Kentucky loses, fans feels like their life is a little worse.  It is an extreme passion, but with that passion also comes the act of passing down and teaching that passion to the children.  The love of UK is a family trait in this state.  I know for a fact there are fathers (and mothers) out there who will, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE, allow their children to support any team other than Kentucky.  I can’t tell you how many stories I had emailed to me that started with “my grandfather took me to see Player X or Coach X”.  I just don’t know if other fanbases have that kind of family heritage that Kentucky has. 

5) KSR

-That’s right.  Without KSR, there would be no fanbase. 

OK, there are my five/four criteria for what makes UK fans the way they are.  What other keys am I missing?  Or can it be pinned down to just a couple points?  Does everybody have their own reasons for being as crazy and passionate as they are?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

32 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What makes UK fans like we are

  1. ATB (Always True Blue)
    9:11 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    BTI, you forgot Bourbon, Kentucky has Bourbon!!! That makes everything else seem a little better.

  2. nashvillecatsfan
    9:13 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    nice post. i couldn’t agree with you more.

  3. Sexington
    9:16 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    Kentucky may not have a lot going for it but it doesn’t have much going against it though. It’s a beautiful, inexpensive, and friendly place to live.

  4. awesometron
    9:26 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    You forgot to mention “BTI” in the “things Kentucky doesn’t have going for it” section.

  5. bung
    9:29 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    Adolph Rupp

  6. kylucky
    9:29 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    Coach Cal is a tremendous asset. He inherited a rich tradition but he’s keeping it alive and well in grand fashion.

  7. Buckets
    9:30 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I think Jerry Tipton would call it “ha-cha-cha.” And then everyone younger than 65 would say, “What they hell does that mean? Is that another reference to the 1950s?” And then Jerry would bow his head in disgrace.

  8. Al's IndiCats
    9:31 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    You also forgot Cawood….I have a friend that lives in Franklin In., and he became a UK fan the night he was turning the dial of his old am radio when happened across Cawood calling a game. He’s from Ky. but was raised as a small child here in central Indiana. As for myself, I was BLUE from the first time I heard the name Cotton Nash.

  9. Hoss
    9:34 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    Hey, Matt, are you listening to this football conversation on the WAZOO show? Man, they just keep talking… how do they have so much to talk about? And would you believe that not once have they prompted their callers to present a football topic? Unreal, man. Simply unfreakingbelievable.

  10. Hoss
    9:37 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    This just in… Chip Cosby is a frickstick.

    That is all.

  11. Jones Returns
    9:38 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    While you make some interesting points, it’s important to remember that there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of fans that live outside of the state border…if Kentucky fans were only Kentucky fans because we have a boring state (I don’t think we do) and there are no other legitimate teams to root for within the state (I’ll agree), then how would you explain all of the passion for UK that is shared by all of the people throughout the US and even the world? I think there are other things that go into making people fans. Style of play (UK has traditionally played an uptempo style), Underdog mentality (people are subconsciously bewildered that a school from “little ole Kentucky” can kick the sh*@ out of a school from NYC, California or wherever and dominate the college basketball landscape for years), Stewards of the game (people like the way UK has handled themselves and the way in which we conduct our business), The passion itself (onlookers become mezmorized by our passion and when they’re exposed to it enough often times they convert), Swagger (many recent UK fans are fans because they like our swagger…much like when people became Michigan fans after the Fab 5). I could go on, but I’m on the clock and I’m starting to feel guilty. Point is, there’s much more that goes into making someone a fan of UK and I think you’re doing us an injustice by simply throwing 4 criteria out there. Just my opinion.

  12. TSmith
    9:42 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    Brian, you’re an idiot and an insult to all things Kentucky. Take your simplistic uneducated view, turn it sideways, and shove where the sun don’t shine.
    REAL Kentuckians don’t want people like you here, you’re clear other places are where you’d rather be, so make everyone happy, leave.

    Oh, have a nice day.

  13. Lycanthrope
    9:46 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I am a passionate fan just because I like cats and the color blue. No other reasons.

  14. #RISE
    9:49 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    #12 Harsh (and unnecessary). People need to ease up on BTI. It’s not easy coming up with interesting topics to write about EVERY day. Some posts are hits, others are not. The kid does his best and the personal attacks are not funny anymore. Go Cats!!

  15. Brian
    9:50 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I think you hit the nail right on the head BTI

  16. #RISE
    9:51 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    #12 Harsh (and unnecessary). People need to ease up on BTI. It’s not easy to come up with interesting topics to write about EVERY day. Some posts are hits, others are not. The kid does his best and the personal attacks are not funny anymore. Go Cats!!

  17. mocha
    9:52 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I would add a 6th point: every fans equal despise of BTI.

  18. bung
    9:57 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    If BTI will read “The Rupp Years” by Tev Laudeman he will be a better UK basketball blogger.

  19. Jeremy F.
    10:06 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I couldnt agree more with the statements about Families passing down their love of UK. Growing up I remember watching guys like Scott Pagett and Wayne Turner with my grandfather, uncles and my dad. Even though I grew up in Cincinnati all of my family was from Kentucky and the Big Blue Nation runs through our viens. I never really rooted for any team other than UK (or whoever happens to be playing UofL). This passion for the University of Kentucky even played a large part in my decission to attend UK for undergrad.

  20. CATNTN
    10:06 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    Cawood……A retired gentleman I know used to drive from his home in Mississippi to his job with the Air National Guard in Memphis. One night in the 1950s, he ran across Cawood calling a Kentucky game while he was searching the radio dial for music to keep him awake. He was hooked. He was a Kentucky basketball fan and Mississippi football fan for the rest of his life.

  21. t
    10:08 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    ease up on the insults, another trait could be taking an almost funny joke and killing it everyday(at least it’s true for half the commentors no this site).

  22. hotdog23
    10:18 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    The one thing to be proud of in Kentucky is the basketball at UK. Other than that, we are good at making things that hurt people. Tobacco, coal, Bourbon, and Meth.

  23. sketch746
    10:27 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I know that when I graduated high school, and was deciding where I was going to go to college, my father told me flat out “You can go anywhere you want to go….. but the check is going to Lexington”.

  24. ATB (Always True Blue)
    11:04 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    #22, that is funny, good post. Bourbon doesn’t hurt people. People drinking too much Bourbon hurts people (I don’t drink too much for the record a half gallon will last me 2 years and I like it straight and prefer Woodford Reserve especially while watching a game of Kentucky Basketball). Coal doesn’t hurt anything, people burning it hurt people. Same for Tobacco. Now Meth, I don’t know one good purpose for Meth (not that there isn’t one) so I am with you on that one.

    #23, that is great as well. I know growing up as a kid all I wanted to do was to play for the Cats!!! That didn’t happen but I did get to watch them alot and got involved with CATS!!! (athletic tutoring center), went to school there, had fun there.

  25. Uk__fan-1
    11:07 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I thought that the UK fanbase made KSR!!

  26. Uk__fan-1
    11:17 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I thought that the UK fanbase made KSR!

  27. Doubting Thomas
    11:31 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I think the unbelieveable support for the University of Kentucky basketball teams lies deep within the history of the program. We took on the high powered schools in the East when no one else had the guts. We played anybody, anywhere, any time and we won. We won with young men from the hills, as Rupp used to say “look to the hills” for the real basketball players. Kentucky’s fan base has been forged over the past 60 years of excellence. I tell my grandchildren about the players I’ve seen over the years like Cotton Nash, Louie Dampier, Goose Givens, Pat Riley, Dan Issel and so on just like my grandfather told me about Groza, Ramsey, Hagan, and so on. It’s the TRADITION that never gives up, no matter the obstacle.

  28. Zach
    11:57 am August 31, 2011 Permalink

    wow, you’ve has finally hit the point of self-consuming arrogance. KSR made UK fans? That’s one of the most self-centered things a self-serving blog like this has ever made, and that’s saying something

  29. Will
    12:35 pm August 31, 2011 Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more about family being a huge factor. I graduated from UL with my bachelors, yet remained a UK fan the entire time. Why? Because it is blood. My family raised me a UK fan and anything else would be treason.

  30. NKYCatFan
    12:47 pm August 31, 2011 Permalink

    Always leaving northern Ky out……..we compete up here for attention with every Ohio and Indiana school (UC, Xavier, OSU, IU, etc)……UK fans still far outnumber them.

  31. Osker Kombs
    1:32 pm August 31, 2011 Permalink

    BTI: Why don’t you pick out a state (or foreign country)that you think has something going for it and move there. It would raise the average IQ in the Bluegrass state considerably.

  32. SweetTeaMob til I DIE
    3:39 pm August 31, 2011 Permalink

    Great post, BTI. Don’t listen to the haters, anyone can act big and bad behind a keyboard..

    And as far as the winning.. I love it. But Kentucky could go 10 years without making the NCAA tourney and I would still wear my blue and white proudly. I’d say most true fans would.