I haven’t trotted out the “Grinds my Gears” segment in quite some time because, well, things have been going really well. Nothing really ground my gears about the Cats finally winning their eighth National Championship; in fact, it was quite lovely. But, when I heard that some Louisville fans were boycotting the Kentucky Derby Festival for naming John Calipari honorary Grand Marshall of the Pegasus Parade, I was ready to channel my inner Peter Griffin.
Over on Louisville’s message boards, there are not one, not two, but three threads complaining about the Festival honoring Cal and his coaching staff. Here are some of the more group-appropriate comments:
[Note: I left grammatical and spelling errors intact for full effect.]
“The good news we are putting them behind the horses so they will constantly be reminded of that smell in runt arena. Some may even be pushing shovels.”
“I’ll be taking my bag of cabbage and other assorted veggies to fling.”
“If UK is Honored Down Broadway in the Pegasus Parade….My family has been every year since 2003…and we won’t go!!!! THIS IS THE CITY OF L O U I S V I L L E !!!”
“Bring CAl and the one and doners to the parade. It would be an embarrassment to them playing second fiddle to Cindy Lauper. And the boos they would get would be great. I would give 100 dollars to the first person to hit CAl with a water balloon. [devil emoticon]”
“But, this makes my decision easy. I won’t be attending….and before you go all “holier than thou” on me, I have always considered myself a rational fan, and don’t take it too seriously…so, save the “you have issues” comments. Not only do I find it disgusting that they will be parading this cheater down Broadway in LOUISVILLE (yeah yeah, they won the tournament…blah blah blah)…but the now over zealous blue necks will make it impossible to enjoy the parade for anyone else. They will somehow turn this into a pUKe pep rally and try and make everyone else miserable…you know it and I know it…that’s just the way they act. So, I will be avoiding it.
Unless they give UofL (Jurich, a couple of players, coach Strong…anyone)…unless they give the Cards (and IU for that matter) equal time, this is a horrible decision on the part of the KDF.”
“If the Cheaters show up and you go, wear RED; Boo loudly; and do the IU student cheer….C-A-S-H…CASH,CASH,CASH….”
“Its absurd to honor our rival in our town. Your absurd for thinking its ok.”
All of that for what will likely be thirty seconds worth of spotlight (see, I could make a Rick Pitino joke here, but I won’t). Now, I can understand the pain of having to see your rival celebrated and praised, especially after a heartbreaking loss on a big stage. Sure, it’s been a while, but I have a pretty good memory. Yet, what drives me batty is how Louisville fans have suddenly taken ownership of the Kentucky Derby Festival and the Pegasus Parade as if it were theirs and theirs only. The impact of the Derby on the citizens of Louisville is undeniable; it’s a huge boost to the economy and its residents take a lot of pride in it. I get that. But the event is huge for the rest of the state as well. Try to tell me that it means less to a Danvillian than a Louisvillian, or someone from Caney Creek. We all grew up with the Derby. It was a celebration, from Derby hat contests at school to stick horse races around the yard, to the silly Kroger commercial about the rose blanket that always makes me a little sentimental.
As Kentuckians, we have a few things to hang our hat on: bourbon, basketball and horses. Once a year, the nation turns to us for two minutes, and we put on a show. For those of us that live outside of the state, it’s a homesick time we try to replicate with Derby parties, in which we always assure our friends that mint juleps are “an acquired taste” after their first nose-wrinkling sip. Nostalgic rambling aside, my point is that the Kentucky Derby is just that: the Kentucky Derby, not the Louisville Derby. In a state that is so often divided by sports, it’s the one time in which we’re supposed to put down our arms and party.
Even Rodney King knows our two fan bases can’t just get along, but for one day out of the year, can one of them hush up and let us have our piece of the Derby pie?