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Dana O’Neil examines “The Commonwealth’s Great Divide”

Do you ever feel that people just don’t “get” how big the Kentucky/Louisville rivalry is? I can’t tell you how many people outside of the state I’ve tried to explain it to, for them only to roll their eyes and silently rank it below UNC/Duke, Yankee/Red Sox, or another epic, albeit not quite as fervent, rivalry. Finally, someone in the national media has done the series justice. Dana O’Neil, formerly of the Triumvirate (since Forde flew the ESPN coop, she has turned the Cal hate down a few notches), has a piece out this afternoon examining the rivalry, which she calls “The Commonwealth’s Great Divide.”

O’Neil did her research, interviewing Terry Meiners, Derek Anderson, a Rupp Arena usher, and of course, Rick Pitino, who said that after two decades on both sides of the fence, he still doesn’t really get why the rivalry is such a big deal. Pitino told O’Neil about finding Bill Keightley crying in the Freedom Hall locker room when he was still the Kentucky coach. When Pitino asked him if he was alright, Keightley responded: “You’ll never understand how much this game means. You’ll never understand. This is all that people will talk about.”

Keightley was right:

“It’s tough for a Northeast person to understand, I think,” Pitino said. “We grew up with the Knicks, the Yankees, but we would never get that worked up over a game. Sports are a meaningful distraction to people there. Here, it’s not a distraction. It’s their life.”

[ESPN: The Commonwealth’s great divide]

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

16 Comments for Dana O’Neil examines “The Commonwealth’s Great Divide”



  1. Cotton Mash
    2:44 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    Nice article, but I think the portrayal of UK (as usual) when it comes to the race card was inaccurate. She went a little overboard with that content it seemed to me.



  2. Beatle Bum
    2:48 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    I hope to evolve to the Pitino level, some day. I need the Porcini life. Where basketball and sex are just quick dribbling games, not a way of life.



  3. Bradley
    2:50 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    Yankess and Red Sox fans hate one another. Chalk up another lie to Richard.



  4. blue
    2:56 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    RIP Keightley… the one and perhaps only man who understood how much this game means to us.just think about how many deaths in this state that has resulted from this game …stabbings and shootouts all from gum bumping about this game afterwards, PPl just dont get it.



  5. H.A. Milton
    3:01 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    @Bradley, agreed. Either that or Pitino is just not a ‘sports guy’. I live in CT, and these people understand and definitely rival what goes on in the Bluegrass…



  6. BBNOwnsCommonwealth
    3:06 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    Divided, are you serious? UK OWNS the Commonwealth. Very few chicken followers, just loud obnoxious ones.



  7. MissYouBill
    3:07 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    Mr. Keightley, more than anyone, understood. It’s not about the yankees, or the knicks, or the red sox, or the bengals, or the braves, or the steelers, or the cardinals, or the anyone else. It’s about Kentucky Basketball.



  8. Tim
    3:18 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    Stabbings and shootouts?? LOL.



  9. kingrex
    3:30 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    Pitino must seriously not be a sports guy. Sports is all anyone in New York, Boston or Philly cares about. Having lived in Atlanta for a big portion of my life I have seen these people at Braves, Falcons and Hawks games since 1984. I threw in Philly fans as well because these three cities produce some of the most horrible, rude, disgusting, obnoxious human beings on the planet and it comes out in a sports environment like in no other situation. They will fill any opposing stadium wearing their team’s jerseys and yell, curse, and mock to the point where it is honestly an unpleasant experience to attend a game when these three cities are involved. Period. So I do not know what Pitino is talking about. Is he trying to give a backhanded compliment to the state of Kentucky or what? Attending the World Series a few years ago in Atlanta vs the Yankees I honestly believe a case could have been made for a mass arrest of every Yankees fan in attendance. I have never been so horrified by humanity at an event where I was present. Chicago fans as a close fourth to the three cities mentioned above. IF their subhuman behavior is honestly a result of something they see as merely a distraction then I am even more appalled.



  10. HairyAngela
    3:34 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t think this rivalry will be considered with the others because the fan bases are not split 50/50. If there were more UL fans it would be perceived as a “better” rivalry than Duke/UNC etc. I think it has more passion than the others because there are less yearly matchups but the overall population is less.



  11. bigredbleedsblue
    3:42 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    I think the “rivalry” is closest to Yankees v. Red soxs. One team has recent history, but the two are really not comparable. UL has some good accomplishments, but they are just not on the same level as UK.



  12. HeshimuEvans'2ndGradeTeacher
    3:58 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    #9 – It is a complete backhanded compliment. It’s his way of kinda saying we ain’t got much else here to do or care about. You know with the total lack of skyscrapers and the abundance of grass we have here and all, this place must really be lame.



  13. bluefan
    4:23 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    The Commonwealth is in no way divided over basketball. Get real.
    The city of Louisville is divided (now that UofL is a ranked team) but the state, not so much.



  14. ukcatfan36
    7:36 pm December 27, 2012 Permalink

    No way the Commonwealth is divided. I’d say the Jefferson County has more Cat than card fans. I think they did a survey a few years ago. Plus I’ve lived here all my life-that counts for something–lol My question about Saturday’s game is this: IF ul wins(which is possible although difficult to contemplate) will their bucket wearing fans storm the floor like the iu folks did when they eeked out their 1 point victory on their home floor???? GO CATS



  15. TaxPayer
    10:37 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Trailer dwellers and hog farmers have no life……other than Meth and Oxycontin this IS the biggest thing they have going for them.
    Go figure why it means so much to HillJacks who really should spend their welfare checks on dental care and an operational vehicle.



  16. DukeRules
    10:44 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    It is simply the haves vs the have nots.City Slickers in $500,000 dollar homes vs Cow Farmers in singlewides.One large metropolitin city vs buggtussleville’s.
    And do not ever forget the RACE factor. Rupp denied African American players while Louisville welcomed them with open arms.
    Just an outsiders view.