Dear Kentucky Football,
It’s me. Your jaded devotee. We both know how challenging it’s been for us. You, my cruel obsession full of empty promises. Me, your naïve enabler full of unfounded optimism.
For as long as I can remember, it’s always been the same.
Section 110, row 7, seat 12 of old-school Commonwealth Stadium. Sitting with my dad on your hard metal bleachers that were blazing hot at the beginning of the season and freezing cold at the end. There was the crazy fan a few rows in front refusing to sit down; the guy to my right with anger management issues; the gentlemen in front of me with his hidden flask of bourbon; the kind old couple next to me who always had to leave early. I remember them all. Our little community of misery persevering together through endless “that’s so KY football” moments.
You’d think I would give up by now, but we both know I can’t.
So here I am. And once again, I find my imaginations impossible to contain. Once again, I find my heart precariously exposed to the possibility of something special. I know I should know better. But I just can’t help myself.
Especially this year.
This time you seem different. No gimmicks. No flukes. Just lining up and beating teams, because you’re actually the better team. And so maybe this Saturday could be different. Maybe, just maybe, this one time you will do for me what you seem never able to do—exceed my expectations.
Listen, even my fanatical idealism has its limits. I’m not asking you to beat Alabama and win the SEC; I’m asking you to beat Georgia and win the East. One time in my lifetime I want to be in Atlanta. And for the first time in my lifetime, it’s right there in front of us. All I’m asking you to do is freaking take it.
None of the experts think it will happen, and Vegas says it shouldn’t happen. Yet I’m choosing to believe. I know I shouldn’t, but I’m going to let myself believe this dream can actually become a reality.
Georgia is amazing, but not without flaws. And their flaws just happen to be where you are strongest. Their offense is good, but their O-line isn’t. And to that I have two words: Josh Allen. Their defense is good, but they have, at times, struggled to stop the run. And to that I have two more words: Benny Snell.
But it just can’t be our stars. Every player is going to have to show up on every play. Every fan is going to have to shout out on every play. And even then, we’re going to need some things to go our way. I’m a pastor. Of all people, I know how problematic it is to pray for things to go my way in a football game, but this week, this game, I just might have to.
Let’s be honest, win or lose this Saturday, we both know I’m not going anywhere. If I was going to leave, I would have done so a long time ago, because, quite frankly, you’re not easy to love. Me perpetually hoping. You frequently failing. And if you fail me again this weekend, I’ll do what I always do, which is get over it and come back next weekend. It is what it is. You’re my team, for better or worse.
But I, your fatigued yet faithful fan, am asking you to be different. One time. One game. Can things go differently for us?
I’ll be honest, you’ve trained me to be a cynic. But I’m choosing not to give in to cynicism. I’m choosing to believe you are going to reward your fanbase for years of long-suffering devotion.
You’re going to beat Georgia. You’re going to play in Atlanta. And you’re going to heal our many painful years together with this one win.