I had an interesting conversation with a friend this weekend who is, like many fans right now, a little concerned about the current state of the basketball program. His main issue is simply if John Calipari truly has the best interests of the University of Kentucky in mind day in and day out. Or is winning secondary to him and simply pushing as many guys professionally his top priority. I think it’s a legitimate question but not one that I am diving in today. The post for today concerns a comment he made during our conversation:
“At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter because I’ll keep cheering for UK no matter what”
That comment struck me because I began to wonder if I felt the same way. Are there circumstances where I would ever cheer against the Cats?
Being upfront, I think there is one obvious situation where you can cheer against UK and that is if they are playing your alma mater. I don’t think it makes you any less of a fan to also support the school you attended against the Cats. It’s a tough situation to be in for many and I know as a WKU alum that when the Tops beat UK in football 2 years running that I was torn but not totally upset.
Taking that situation out of the question, are there other circumstances where you would cheer against the Cats?
I can think of only one time where I thought to myself during a game “I really would be happy if we just lost this game”. That circumstance occurred in 2013 during the NIT against Robert Morris. We obviously know that team and season well as it was unquestionably Cal’s worst team. Even before the Noel injury, that team was really struggling and was looking at a very mediocre seed in the NCAA Tournament. Once Noel went down, it was basically one bad performance after another, none of which was more embarrassing than the SEC Tournament performance against Vanderbilt.
But even after all of that, I was still on board with supporting the team all the way through the NIT. I even thought it was kinda cool we had to go to Robert Morris and play on their home floor. I truly believed we would go in and smash the little underdog that the group of less talented players they were. And then UK fell behind in that game 10-0.
I remember that moment vividly because I turned to my girlfriend (now wife) and said to her “I honestly don’t care if they win this game”. Now, I wasn’t actively cheering for Robert Morris during that game but I remember being miserable watching that team struggle to score against a bunch of scrubs. I remember that outside of Archie Goodwin, nobody was giving a lick of effort. And I remember as the Cats came back to tie the game late thinking to myself “I hope they don’t pull this out because I don’t want to watch them again”. In the end, they didn’t pull it out and the season was over.
I’ve often thought about was a wrong to wish losing on that team in that moment. I am sure they were trying harder than I give them credit for. And I am sure Robert Morris is better than I wanted to believe. But it sure didn’t appear that way on TV and frankly they didn’t seem to care if they won so why should I?
I’ve never cheered against the Cats since or come close to feeling like I did that night. I never felt that way in the Tubby and Billy years either. Something about that team bothered me so much I was cheering against their success. Is there a REALISTIC circumstance where you would cheer against UK? For instance, if the UL scandals happened here, would you still cheer for Cats? What about the Michigan State scandal? How bad does it have to get for you to turn on your lifelong fanhood? Maybe it’s nothing but I found the conversation interesting and I wondered if the feelings of my friend were shared by most.