Editor’s Note: The picture above is from the night of the national championship on Bourbon Street. As you know, Josh Hopkins occasionally joins us to provide UK fan commentary from a Hollywood perspective. As “Cougartown” gets ready for its TBS debut, Josh lets us know about the two types of UK fans and which one he is.
I am going to tell you something that you already know. Kentucky fans are the best and it isn’t even close. We are unrivaled in our passion and undaunted in our quest to support all things BBN. We take it personally because we bleed it, we tweet it, we travel to show it all over the land. But while our passion is the same, our ways of expressing it are often very different. Actually, expressing it is not the right way to put it. I should say, our ways of “dealing with it” is very different because this isn’t a blog entry about classy fans vs jackasses, the civil or the vs the embarrassing. No, instead this is about the happy go lucky positive fan and the “sky is falling” negative fan. Neither is more admirable than the other and we in the Big Blue Nation have tons of examples of both. Both are equally obsessed with our team and, for the most part, you don’t have a choice as to which fan you are, as it is ingrained in you at birth. In my life the two archetypes of this UK fan dichotomy are two sets of brothers; The Robertsons and The Powells.
The OPTIMISTS: Scotty and Manny Robertson are at every game. They travel. They cheer,holler and yell at the ref and read KSR twenty times a day. They are hardcore to the core. If we have a big game against a tough team I may call and ask how they feel and inevitably it’s the same. “I feel great. We’ve got this. No way we lose. They shouldn’t be on the court with us.” It’s not a ruse either, they really think that way. Kentucky’s the best, not just at basketball, but at everything. We won’t lose. It’s all skittles and rainbows and unicorns. I get off the phone thinking, “man, it’d be fun to live where you live”.
On the other hand there’s the GLOOM AND DOOM Powell brothers, Huston and Griggs. They are big blue lifers that bleed it 24/7 and wear it on their sleeves. Check KSR twenty times a day. Maniacs. If we have a game, I don’t need to call and get their opinions because they’ve both called me ten times with the same pessimistic message. “I have a bad feeling about this. We can’t score. They’re stronger than us. I can’t sleep”. They don’t mean to be so negative but that’s how they were built. They live in a world of angst and fear. I get off the phone thinking, “Good Lord man, cheer up, you are exhausting”.
I love all four of them. I need them. We’ve been doing this dance for thirty years and it’s part of my big game ritual. I need to hear both sides. I need to talk it through because, truthfully, I skew much more Powell than Robertson. If Manny is a one, Scotty a two and Griggs a nine with Huston a ten I probably fall in at about a seven. Mine is a world of tension and worry. When I See 859 pop up on my phone my mind goes immediately to torn ACL’s and potential DUI’s. I periodically panic at the possibility of transfers when I perceive a kid isn’t happy. When I read one of our recruits is visiting another school I’m haunted by visions of the hottest coeds fawning over him, “He Got Game” style (I immediately want to say, “we have hot women too!!!”). I panic when I see one of our players’ tweets from Tolly Ho comes in too late at night. Get to bed!
Because of my worrying tendencies, even the best UK moments can be hard to get through. 1996 and 2012 were torture for me. Don’t get me wrong, they were the best years of my life but the pressure of being the best and fearing the one game scenario was brutal. Ulcer years. The came 98, which was a great feeling as we won and maybe weren’t the best team. It was all cinnamon and gravy. And while the arrival of Cal has helped immensely I still can’t shake that 2010 West Virginia 2-2-1 zone where we go ice cold 4 for 32 from three point and that damn Mazzula kid…
I digress. Anyway, I’m trying to be better. I am trying to learn to breathe, to smell the flowers if you will. Its a process but I’m learning and growing as a fan. So, a little advice, whatever fan you are, Robertson or Powell, try and enjoy this team in particular. They are so fun to watch and so very young. They will grow every game and trust me, they are also great kids that make it easy to cheer for them. Deal how you’re going to deal, whether in a Robertson or Powell way, but be sure and take a deep breath and enjoy. This team will be fun and next year will be even better.
Admit it, there’s nothing better than being a UK fan.