True or False: UK has the craziest/biggest fanbase in the nation?
True or False: UK is the most hated fanbase in the nation?
The answer to both questions is undoubtedly “True“. Is there a correlation? I think so. The hatred has reared its ugly head like never before this week . And I’m sick and tired of it.
You’re also sick and tired of hearing about the IU game, I know. So am I. Because every single f-ing time I sign in to Facebook or check my Twitter timeline, it is a stream of constant Kentucky bashing. All because of one win, the haters come out in full force to make sure everybody knows that they think the UK fanbase is full of obnoxious, redneck idiots. And while UK has plenty of obnoxious fans, the broad generalizations are simply getting out of hand.
At this point, it has apparently become an anomaly to be a rational, reasonable UK fan. What the hell?! This morning, Dick Vitale tweeted a picture with two Cat fans at the Broken Egg for breakfast. His tweet said, “These two are objective fans.” So, Dick, people are supposed to just assume that Kentucky fans are crazy and irrational right away? I love you, but c’mon man. Now, UK fans can’t even get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being REASONABLE. That’s the sports climate we live in. And, yes, it’s partially our fault.
Kentucky’s fanbase is so large that, of course, it is going to have the highest number of a**hole fans. It’s inevitable by sheer mathematics and probability. The general passion of the UK fanbase has rubbed people the wrong way, too. Combine that with the perceived ‘redneck culture’ of our great commonwealth, and you’ve got the ingredients for a stereotype being perpetuated by haters across the country…specifically north of Lexington in general. Is there any truth in it? Yes, some – like people say about most stereotypes. But the UK stereotype has become more accepted as fact than fiction. I will admit that we here at KSR do perpetuate stereotypes about UofL fans and their linebeard/flatbills, but it is a joke. Poking fun is way different than actually believing a stereotype.
And that is the problem – opposing fans are being raised to actually believe that all UK fans are crazy and obnoxious. Growing up in Southern Indiana, I was exposed to three fanbases. UK, IU, and UofL. If you weren’t a UK fan, your favorite teams went in one of two orders: 1) IU 2) UofL 3) whoever was playing UK … or 1) UofL 2) IU 3) whoever was playing UK. You were bred to be a hater from the beginning, and people rationalized it by saying, “Well, those damn UK fans are just the worst”. Sure, some people have subjective experiences with crazy UK fans that shape their opinion, but the stereotype is still an infectious virus of a perception that we cannot escape.
This stereotype turns opposing fans who would otherwise be reasonable into irrational jerks. They think its cool or funny to get on Facebook or Twitter and spout off about how Kentucky deserves every bad thing that happens because they’re nothing but insane hicks. And while a healthy combination of hatred and respect is a compelling part of any great rivalry, the antics are getting out of hand with violence and animosity. I’m not saying we all have to like each other, but UofL and IU fans have shown a great deal of unnecessary ganging-up and hatred towards all UK fans this week.
Being arguably the greatest college basketball program in history means that haters are inevitable. From the top, it’s impossible to avoid them. And with that, being the biggest fanbase means you’ve got plenty of unreasonable crazies of your own to deal with. But all I ask is this: If you’re going to be a hater or a jerk, direct it towards the unreasonable fan who provoked you instead of at an entire fanbase. That goes for all fans. Two wrongs usually don’t make a right, but it’s better than the alternative. If you can’t identify your provocateur, then you are probably in the wrong.
In the end, the sports world would be a better place if we were all reasonable, level-headed fans. But then again, the Kentucky fanbase wouldn’t be as spectacular as it is without a bit of unreasonableness.