The always venerable Wikipedia defines an expatriate as “a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country or culture other than that of the person’s upbringing.” In other words, they’re strangers in a strange land. University of Kentucky fans have always identified themselves as members of “Big Blue Nation,” and in many cases, the BBN really CAN be found almost anywhere your travels take you. With that in mind, the series “The Ex-Pats of Big Blue Nation” will profile those Kentucky fans who have moved away from the Bluegrass State for whatever reason, asking how they’ve managed to maintain their devotion and fanhood despite living in areas where every exhibition game isn’t televised or where no one in the neighborhood understands the significance of the date April 2, 2012. This evening’s edition is dedicated to Chris Young down there in Dallas. Read on and enjoy hearing about life as a UK fan outside of Kentucky.
Great picture of Chris and AD- but how about demon-eyes kid?!
Let’s start with the basics. Please state your name, where you’re from, and current location for the official record. No need for exact addresses, I don’t want to get you in trouble on the Internet.
My name is Chris Young. I am originally from Richmond and moved to Dallas, TX a little over 10 years ago.
How did you get from Point A (Kentucky) to Point B (where you are now)?
I married a girl from Texas. After we got married, we lived in a Louisville for a few years, but the plan was always to try and get down to Texas once we were ready start having kids. We have been here a long time and as much as it pains me, it really is home at this point (Sorry Grandma).
What team’s fans dominate your area? (College or professional)
The Dallas area is actually a great place for sports fans. We have all of the pro sports represented with the Mavericks, Cowboys, Rangers, and Stars. There is also a lot of interest in college sports, with the biggest interest obviously being football. All of the Texas schools have huge alumni bases in Dallas so you see lots of University of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech support and you also have a lot fans from neighboring states in Arkansas, Oklahoma and LSU. It really is a nice melting pot of college athletics and leads to some great water cooler debates. I was very excited for Texas A&M to enter the SEC to increase the exposure down here. Plus, my wife is an Aggie so we can hopefully have some heated battles down the road (I was not counting on the A&M win at Rupp this year….not cool)
Was it a hard adjustment going from living where everyone knows every detail about UK sports, to where people may conceivably think UK and Louisville are the same team?
The UK/UofL “confusion” is quite a sore subject for me. I also get a lot “so you like KU” when I am wearing my Kentucky gear. It still frustrates me each time it happens, but after 10 years I have certainly gotten used to it. It’s certainly an adjustment, but technology and social media have made things so much easier in the last 10 years. My only outlet when I first moved down here was the Cat’s Pause message boards and the Herald-Leader online, needless to say….things are much better now.
How many Kentucky fans would you say are in your general vicinity? Is there a local UK alumni group or bar?
I don’t see many at all. It actually happens so infrequently that when I do see someone in UK gear, I go out of my way to talk to them which is not really my nature. This has actually led to a few uncomfortable exchanges when I was told that the shirt was “just a gift”. There is a good alumni group down here, I was heavily involved when I first got down here but now having 3 kids in my house it is tougher to make the game watching parties and other events. I am actually very lucky in the fact a fellow alum and fan literally moved right across the street from me about 6 or 7 years ago. It’s been great to have someone to talk about the Cats and/or watch games with.
How do you show off your fandom while living away from Kentucky?
Like most true fans, a big portion of my wardrobe is UK gear. My wife is constantly amazed and befuddled that I continue to order UK gear each and every year.
What’s the hardest thing about being a fan outside of the geographic BBN? The best thing?
Like I mentioned, technology really makes “keeping up with things” very easy. The hardest thing for me is realizing that it will be very difficult to for my children to have the true love and appreciation of what makes BBN special. They try to root for them because they want me to be happy, but it will obviously never mean as much to them since they did not get the full experience.
What has been your favorite memory as a UK fan?
Wow, that is a tough question and I could probably write a relatively long novel about all my great memories. However, if I had to pick one it would likely be the 1996 championship. I was a junior at UK at the time and had lived my whole life as a die-hard UK fan without seeing them win a title (I was 3 in 78) and living through probation and the “Kentucky’s Shame” era. The stress of that tournament run (the UMass semi-final game in particular) along with the sheer joy and debauchery of celebrating on Euclid after they won was something that I will never forget and will have to be #1 on my list.
What do you do for games?
It is not very exciting but most of them I am in the comfort of my living room, often on TIVO after the kids have gone to bed. My neighbor and I will get together for the big ones, but most I watch solo (unless you count my wife’s frustrated glances when I am “too intense”)
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to follow a game live?
I have trained myself to be able to record a game and watch it later (it is painful not to checks twitter, KSR, or texts but it can be done). However, this is not an option during the NCAA tournament. During the UK/IU tourney game in 2012, my lovely had gone to great lengths to get us tickets for a concert. I decided that I could change my policy and wait till we got home late that night to watch the game. However, when the time came and I knew the game was starting I could not take it….I quickly downloaded the CBS tourney app on my phone and proceeded to secretly watch the game on my phone under my shirt.
How do you keep up with UK news without the local media readily accessible?
That’s easy, there are a lot great outlets. My favorite has always been KSR. I don’t know if there are records of these things, but I am pretty sure I was a day 1 visitor and probably have not missed a day of checking in since. I am also a big twitter fan and feel like I get all the UK news I need via those two outlets.
If I embark on a cross-country road trip with my friends, a la Britney Spears in Crossroads, do you have a UK-themed room I can stay in?
I am sad to say that you would be staying in my garage. As I have kept having kids, my UK “banners” (framed newspapers from 96, 98, and 2012) along with other posters and memorabilia have been moved… there is a refrigerator in there though.
Since becoming an ex-pat, have you returned to Kentucky to watch the team play or seen the team play live in a different area? Any plans to go to the Final Four or Baylor doubleheader this year?
I have been to Rupp only a few times since I’ve been down here. I have made a few road trips….MSG vs. KU last year, a few SEC tournaments, the 2005 Regional Final game in Austin (the very painful OT loss to Mich St.), and was very fortunate to be in New Orleans for #8 last year. I will definitely be Cowboys stadium for the Baylor game and when we get #9 next April.
How do the locals respond to your fandom?
They are pretty receptive and I tend to be a go to guy for bracket preparation as most don’t follow college hoops too closely down here.
What advice do you have for anyone who may be considering a move from Kentucky who is concerned about missing out on following UK?
Technology makes things VERY easy to stay in touch, but there is nothing like the BBN family and being part of that each and every day.
Any general stories that the readers of KSR would be interested to hear about living as a BBN ex-pat?
My favorite story was going into the Superdome on April 2, 2012. I anxiously got to my seat 10 minutes before tip-off. At some point in the first half I finally noticed that my knees were touching the back of my childhood hero. Yes, Rex Chapman was sitting right in front me. For those not in my demographic, I have to emphasize that Rex was in my opinion the most popular UK player ever. Every kid in the Bluegrass wanted to be Rex and I was certainly in that camp. Rex along with his pal Josh Hopkins were extremely gracious in talking and taking a few pics with my buddy and I at the game. I had visions of all of us partying on Bourbon Street in celebration, but I settled for a few awkward high fives as we watched the Cats win #8.
I love awkward high fives. @KristenGeilKSR