Kentucky Basketball: Life and Death, Winning and Losing

If you are a Kentucky basketball fan, or even a Louisville basketball fan, stop what you are doing and go read this.

You back?  Good.

I'm not chest-thumping here, and I think we should all appreciate the efforts of everyone who has chipped in to help the people of Haiti equally.  One man's $100 contribution might represent a bigger personal sacrifice than another man's $1 million, and I think everyone gets that.

But I have failed to dedicate an article to the praise of the Kentucky fans, and even not-fans, who have contributed to help the unfortunate victims of the Haiti disaster, and now, thanks to Gregg Doyel, I don't have to do much -- because he has done it for me.  I especially liked this:

An earthquake devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, and within five days Calipari had used the power and the passion of Kentucky basketball to raise more than $1 million for victims, with more on the way as Calipari is auctioning off a dinner with himself and Ashley Judd to the highest bidder. President Obama felt the need to call Calipari and thank him, and Kentucky basketball fans, for their help. Maybe you can tell, but I still can't believe this story. The Kentucky basketball community gave $1 million! That's as much as all of India. It's more than Sweden ($850,000). Nothing against those countries, either. Good for them. Every bit helps.

Of all the points that have been raised in criticism of Kentucky fans, and there have been very many, this one event has done more to offset them than any number of victories on the basketball floor.  When the needy needed help, our fans rose up and delivered help -- a lot of it.  I almost feel guilty for the amount of pride I feel for those Kentucky fans (and fans of other schools) who have responded.

Coach Calipari and the basketball team have been no small participants in this affair, and if the distractions of that participation were, even in the smallest way, responsible for the loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks, I think they should wear that loss like the badge of honor it is.  That is not to minimize the Gamecock effort, but merely to praise Coach Cal and the young men of the team for not being afraid to deal with the potential distractions that could arise from this noble effort, and not letting that stop them from doing something so amazing and so praiseworthy that it will resonate in the hearts of many Americans, sports fans or otherwise, for a long time to come.

So thank you, Kentucky, and thank you, Indiana, and Louisville, and North Carolina and all the other great fans and people from around the world who have reached out to help those in desperate need.  Kentucky, and many other places as well, have responded in the face of death and destruction with the gift of life-giving aid. 

Yeah, we lost a game, but we won the hearts of many at the same time.  Basketball is still just a game, and even though the 'Cats lost a game, they won in life.

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