No matter if you are a fan of UK or a fan of a rival school, you have to admit that UK fans are some of the most unique in the country in their fanhood. They go to greater lengths and at greater costs to learn everything they can, and feel a part of the program. Some people would call that insane, and we call it passion. But why exactly are we the way we are? What has made this fanbase so passionate about the college team we follow? I have knocked it down to 4 major and 1 minor thing:
1) THE STATE ITSELF
-Let’s be honest, in the grand scheme of the 50 states, Kentucky has very little going for it compared to most. We basically have two “major” cities in Lexington and Louisville, zero professional sports teams, a declining horse industry, and a large chunk of the state is rural. Point is, there is not a lot of things to get involved in with the state of Kentucky. Which is why so many people turn their attention to UK sports. It is there year-round, if you included recruiting. It really has no competition inside state borders (besides UL) sports-wise. The state is a perfect scenario for extreme passion of one major school, and Kentucky happens to be it.
2) THE OTHER SCHOOLS IN THE STATE
-Yes, WKU and EKU and Morehead State and Murray State are Division-1 programs. But in reality, Louisville is the only program that can even sniff the fanbase that Kentucky has. And even for that program, the fanbase is basically confined to 1 county. The other 119 counties are dominated by Kentucky. Even in North Carolina, there is UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, and NC State all there to split the population. Indiana has IU, Purdue, and Notre Dame, not to mention to expanding Butler fanbase. Point being, there isn’t any serious competition to the actual number of UK fans.
-Simply put, if UK hadn’t won so big for so long, the fanbase wouldn’t be there. We don’t just follow the program because of pride of our state school. We follow because they reward us with wins. Now, if Kentucky went on a 10-year long string of missing the NCAA Tournament, would the fanbase leave? I don’t know. The fanhood might be too embedded in the people for that to happen, but what built this fanbase so large and passionate was wins and more wins.
-Families take pride in their UK fanhood in this state. When Kentucky wins, fans feel like they win and their life is better. When Kentucky loses, fans feels like their life is a little worse. It is an extreme passion, but with that passion also comes the act of passing down and teaching that passion to the children. The love of UK is a family trait in this state. I know for a fact there are fathers (and mothers) out there who will, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE, allow their children to support any team other than Kentucky. I can’t tell you how many stories I had emailed to me that started with “my grandfather took me to see Player X or Coach X”. I just don’t know if other fanbases have that kind of family heritage that Kentucky has.
-That’s right. Without KSR, there would be no fanbase.
OK, there are my five/four criteria for what makes UK fans the way they are. What other keys am I missing? Or can it be pinned down to just a couple points? Does everybody have their own reasons for being as crazy and passionate as they are?