I have just returned home from Atlanta and another couple of days that affirm to me why the Big Blue Nation is the best fan base in college sports. Yes, we win and travel like none other. But there also is a camaraderie and friendship that comes with being a UK fan that is simply unmatched anywhere else. Don’t believe me? Well look at this excerpt from a long article on the UK-Duke game on Grantland.com. The writer is Shane Ryan, who I do the “Walk-Ons” podcast with twice a week. Here is what he has to say about the UK fans:
Atlanta is just six hours from Durham, North Carolina, and my guess is that the city boasts the second-largest Duke alumni population after New York (maybe third after D.C. – maybe). Lexington, Kentucky, is approximately equidistant, and while I have no idea where UK grads go, I can say that the Big Blue Nation completely took over the building on Tuesday. It wasn’t even close. They were loud, they were supportive, and they were unafraid to dance in bizarre and unsettling ways.
Wildcats fans also have a reputation for actually being nice. After a cursory investigation, it’s my unfortunate duty to report to Kentucky haters that this last fact seems legit. They may have swarmed my hotel and lifted the roof off the Georgia Dome and overwhelmed the other four fan bases, but they did so with a strange politeness. Their best moment came when the JumboTron showed a young Duke fan with a sign saying that not only was this his first game, it was also his birthday. He was so small and innocent and excited to be on camera that I actually winced. No other reaction occurred to me other than to brace myself for another of life’s many displays of human cruelty. Instead, I heard nothing. Not a single boo. I’m not saying the Kentucky fans cheered for the kid, but they were politely silent in a way that made me want to reach out and hug them all.
I can verify that Shane is not easily pleased, but we UK fans won him over. That is usually the case when an objective out-of-towner (as opposed to a grizzled, agenda-toting national reporter) meets actual UK fans.
And if you liked Shane’s work, make sure and listen to the latest edition of the Walk-Ons Podcast, where we talk UK-Duke, hating Tom Crean and my phobia of public bathrooms. Also if you get a chance, subscribe on iTunes, where everything is better.