This One’s for the Fans.
I watched “Jason and the Argonauts” and three hours of “Flight of the Concords” as I considered what to write about. Something hilarious, something that wouldn’t make people leave comments like some of these left on some of the previous entries:
Mr. (name removed), what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent entry were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this blog is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
And my personal favorite:
Cals Cats Fever Says:
I think I could eat a bowl of alphabets cereal and $HI* out a better post than that…
Well Cals Cats Fever, I’ll try not to let you down. A few things stuck out in my mind as I was looking through UK related news this weekend. The first was Jerry Meyer’s comment that maybe Cats fans are “getting a little greedy” over recruits and the second was the fact that Rupp Arena won an online poll for best college basketball venue, which some folks took exception to. All of this leads to the perpetuation of the myth that UK fans are unreasonable.
Let me first address Jerry Meyer who wrote, ” Kentucky fans might be getting a little greedy. Multiple fans want to know how good the chances are for the program to land two elite point guards in 2010.” I like Jerry but greedy can essentially be read unreasonable.
Unreasonable? I find it interesting that guys like Dick Vitale will lavish praise on Kentucky fans for their devotion and knowledge of the game and then turn around and criticize us for not understanding the modern game. As he would put it, other teams get players. We understand that other teams get players, or in other words, other teams win too. Do we hope or even expect that every player should want to come to UK ? Of course we do. It’s the same kind of blind devotion that at times is a little excessive but is common to most kinds of fanship. Star Trek fans dress up as aliens and generally act nerdy. Teenage girls used to pass out at the site of Michael Jackson and Matt Jones passes out at the site of Barack Obama. We think everyone should know what we know, that Kentucky is the ” Roman Empire of college basketball” and “resistance is futile”.
We have an undying devotion to our team evidenced by our ability to win every internet poll. We saw this on Friday with the announcement that Rupp Arena had been voted the greatest venue in college basketball on cbssports.com.
We as fans however are not completely unreasonable when our teams lose. We understand losing, especially lately. Indeed some of our favorite teams never won a championship. Rupp’s Runts and the Unforgettables come to mind.
That being said, we do expect championships. Not just conference championships but national championships. We’re not so foolish as to think that we should win it every year but we are so devoted as to think we should compete for one most years. And there’s the rub. It’s not that we expect to win; it’s that we expect to at least compete. We expect our players to understand our tradition and to play up to that tradition.
Another piece of news this weekend came from P.G. Peeples, the Lexington Urban League President and CEO who stated “Some of us…harbor ill feelings about when Tubby was let go. Some of us say let go. Others say resign. Either way, it was a wedge issue.” There again is the implication that the fan base was “unreasonable”. I should note here that I was really hurt when Tubby left, but there are certain expectations of a UK coach; win early and often and do it in a way that represents this state with honor and class. Our coaches walk a tight rope, but they are well compensated to do so. None of us is in any way delusional about how hard it is to win consistently in college basketball, but with the package our coaches get comes certain expectations.
UK is blessed with a fan base that holds tradition very high, and that tradition is winning. Our tradition is something that we can be proud of, something that endures, something that conjures childhood memories of watching games with papaw and getting blue hats for our birthdays. It is this state’s shared consciousness. It is an integral piece of our culture that wouldn’t be complete if you took it away.
Unfortunately however, we are all too often misunderstood and I think envied by others. The following was posted to cbssports.com by Dukefan704 in response to Rupp Arena winning the online poll for best arena in college basketball:
This poll is just another showing of how unrealistic UK fans are. The fact is there is no way that Rupp is the best arena in the country…but when UK fans are involved, any poll or message board is pointless. Kentucky fans are the most unrealistic and delusional fans in all of sports. Their team hasn’t been on top in a long time but they cling to their tradition.
Our devotion is a common bond. It’s what we share with our friends, our elders, and even sometimes, our social enemies. For many of us it is the one point that our family can come together on, except of course in my case where I have a father who somehow finds it possible to root for both teams.
The program at my great aunt’s funeral featured a UK logo on the front instead of a picture of her. My uncle was buried in a UK sweater and I have been known to pray on my UK “prayer rug.” No shoes are ever allowed on this rug.
I know that I am not alone in my UK experiences. We all see ourselves as the biggest fan. We all scour the internet for news. I don’t know the fans who stalk Dominique Ferguson’s Facebook page. Our fans were humbled after Kentucky ‘s Shame and then reached the height of jubilation in 96 when the championship finally returned to Lexington after an 18 year hiatus. These are the fans that I know and love. May those days soon return; my prayer rug is getting a little worn.
Last Saturday, the Lexington Herald Leader reported that Dan Issel has filed for bankruptcy. The greatest player in UK men’s basketball history has piled up more than $4.5 million in debt. That stinks. It seems like yesterday that Dan was hocking Farm Bureau insurance beside a portly farmer bellowing that Purnell’s Old Folk’s sausage “tastes like sausage aught ta taste”. Fortunately, he has over $2 million in assets. It is a little known fact that, as the Godfather of UK basketball, Dan Issel has amassed a collection of infamous items related to UK history. You know what that means? Yard sale! Let’s see what Dan has been hiding in his garage and estimate what he can get for it, shall we?
Item 1: Game Worn ABA Colonels Jersey.
A good start to the sale. Most UK fans would pay for this.
Estimated Value: $200
Item 2: Framed Gone Fishin’ Picture of Joe B Hall and Denny Crumb.
From the best radio show ever. Known for unintentional comedy and long, awkward pauses.
Estimated Value: $5
Item 3: Scouting report on Rob Locke and Valerie Still’s son.
You know Bret Bearup is following this 13 year old like a Twilight vampire.
Estimated Value: $5,000
Item 4: Unused, unopened Emory Packages.
Like a grab bag. You could get some cash or an Oliver Simmons highlight tape. Feast or famine.
Estimated Value: $50
Item 5: Sean Sutton’s necklace.
Whoops. Looks like the Shawn Kemp is off the hook.
Estimated Value: $350
Item 6: Billie Gillispie socks. (unused)
Part of Bill Keightley’s greatest ever practical joke on a guy that deserved it.
Estimated Value: $25
Item 7: Footprint stained Aminu Timberlake jersey.
The evidence that Christian Laettner is evil.
Estimated Value: $10,000
Item 8: Hall Mumme Pass Street Sign.
Remember when Ron Cooper coached Louisville and chided UK for having a street beside the stadium named for him? And UK changed the name to Hall Mumme Pass temporarily the next year? Yeah. How did that work out for them?
Estimated Value: $0.25
Item 9: Tubby Smith’s Magic Fax Machine
Instantly provides backdated statement of intent to salvage the amateur status of over-hyped players.
Estimated Value: $10,000 or Isiah Thomas’ best offer.
Item 10: Gatorade stained Guy Moriss shirt.
Ouch. Just ouch.
Estimated Value: $1 for UK fans. $500 for Louisville fans.
Item 11: Rodrick Rhode’s Kleenex box. (empty)
Estimated Value: $0.50
Item 12: Claude Bassett’s golf cart.
The famous symbol of power in the corrupt Mumme regime. Needs shocks.
Estimated Value: $75
Item 13: Menu from Bravo Pitino’s.
One can only imagine what was on the menu when Pitino *owned* the restaurant.
Estimated Value: $3.59 About the same as a value meal.
Item 14: Erik Daniels and Gerald Fitch fake South Carolina driver licenses.
The bouncer at Varsity Blue was suspicious when the hologram of a Game Cock looked nothing like a rooster.
Estimated Value: $100 Mostly because some frat boy will buy it and try to use it again.
Item 15: Ashley Judd’s pitt-stained, game-worn UK t-shirts.
Honestly, is there any way some creepy bastard isn’t going to pay top dollar for these?
Estimated Value: $70,000
Item 16: Billie Gillispie’s set of collectible Makers Mark bottles (empty)
Estimated Value: $2
Item 17: Rob Bromley
As long as we are getting rid of all the old stuff. .
Estimated Value: Free to a good home.
Item 18: Mexican beer bong.
Yeah. We went there.
Estimated Value: $15
Hunter’s take: A couple of strong entries we have here. Jared, we’ll start with you. You managed to take an assignment on news over the weekend and turn it into an exposÃ© on the mentality of the Kentucky fanbase, which is certainly a unique way of approaching things. You found several tidbits of news or obscure quotes and did a good job of working all of them within your theme. I felt there were a couple of things lacking in your piece, however. I would have liked to see a little more information about the news itself, rather than just a cursory mention within the flow of your opinion. Also, a little bit of ridiculousness could go a long way for you, as while this is an excellent tug-at-the-heartstrings, take you back to your grandparents’ house watching games kind of thing, people come here for the humor, and humor must you give them. What you did, you did well, though.
Christopher, also well done. You took a risk by picking a piece of news that was posted here last week, but put a twist on it and made it all your own. While I probably wouldn’t personally have poked fun at the greatest UK player of all-time’s financial woes and the details surrounding his resignation from coaching, this method of turning fairly mundane news into something a little more interesting is what we do here on a daily basis. I even got a chuckle out of some of the things on your list, although nothing sent me over the moon. This was a good entry, but you’ll have to continue to step up your game if winning is something you might be interested in.
With all that said, Christopher, you’ll be moving on to the next round. Jared, you did a good job on this round but I felt like Chris executed the assignment better and certainly brought it in the most ridiculous manner possible, which is what we’re going for. This one will indeed be for the fans, Jared, as they’ll now hold your fate in their hands and I think you have a good chance of moving on. Congratulations to both of you for making it this far and good luck as the contest moves forward.