If I could think of one of the hardest tasks for me to do in regards to UK sports, it would be trying to explain to outsiders why Kentucky sports is bigger than just a game on a TV set. I've been called a lot of names for being a UK fan and each time I just roll with the punches.
For as long as I can remember, watching the Cats play was a part of everyday life. I was born in Lexington and rumor has it that you could hear me talking about the Wildcats in the womb. True? Who knows.
If you’re like me during a UK game then you would know that nothing else matters except yelling at the refs, tweeting the calls you deemed inappropriate (If you have twitter fingers) and continuously yelling the CATS chant until our throats are practically on fire. But what makes our fan base so dedicated?
I took the time to ask a few people why they believe our fan base is so dedicated and here are their responses
"UK games are not just a game to us. They are much more than that. We put UK games on our calendars and get the whole family together to watch the Cats. My kids knew about the Cats since they could walk and I'm confident their children will know and love them as well. Big Blue Nation is one big family." - Katie 37 Lexington, KY
"Why are we dedicated? Because we actually bleed blue. (chuckles) You have bandwagon fans and celebrities who love UK but a lot of us or the people I know have always loved the Cats. Even I can remember listening to my grandpa talk about how he was nervous to play the Cards back in the 80's. It's a tradition for families to wear blue and chant C-A-T-S every chance we get despite if we win the game or lose it. I love our Rivalries and getting fired up about the opponents. It's a true love for sure. "- Harold, 46.
The dedication has its roots within everything from the players, coaches, and even to equipment such as Big Bertha. We will miss you ole gal. When we lose, it feels less like a loss and more like a breakup. Seriously, it feels as if we just got dumped by the NCAA until we pull ourselves together, recognize our potential and go look for a new boyfriend or in this case another opponent to take down.
Before you say this feeling only pertains to women, I can fully assure most men I know feel the exact same way. Not only are we tied to the game, but also to the players. We spend countless hours, days and weeks getting to know everyone who puts on a UK jersey. Our love is true, kind of creepy during recruitment but mostly genuine.
For instance, I watched grown men cry along with myself when Tyler Ulis announced he was declaring for the NBA draft. If that doesn’t say true love, I’m not sure what will.
As stated above, we do have bandwagon fans. All sports have them. I don't blame people who want to cheer for a winning team, yet I don't appreciate the ones who jump off the wagon when we do not win a championship, or begin to criticize and speak poorly of players that they once rooted for, such as the Harrison Twins.
Remember when they came in clutch countless times for the tournament? I do.
UK has been through a lot through the years. We've had good/bad coaching eras, seasons where we barely made the tournament but most importantly championships.There have been games where I have been disappointed yet I have never and will never regret my life decision to being a UK fan.
I am sure all of you feel the same. Some say we are obnoxious, a bit too crazy on State Street and In general, as well as arrogant. Despite dropping the girl, we have our own personal dancing man at least. Honestly, all of these things are probably true. However, we accept the criticism and laugh at the people who hate our fanbase because I do not foresee it changing anytime soon. Our passion is the fuel and the game is the fire that we pour it on.
When you are a UK sports fan, the quote "It’s more than just a game, it’s a tradition" holds so much truth. On game day you grab your family, a cold one and anything with UK or BBN printed on it to watch the players step onto the court or field. Families of all generations gather, grab the pets, and take a seat .
If you are not watching then you are listening to the radio or some form of technology. I can not tell you how many times it was rather dangerous for me to drive and listen to a game. Fun fact, when we miss a free throw or an incomplete pass, I tend to hit the steering wheel 80 times if driving. You feel connected to everyone due to the passion and rage during the season.
When you yell the chants together it makes you feel like a family even if it is a complete stranger next to you at a pub. When we win, we celebrate as if we were in the locker room with Cal or Stoops themselves. Katie(woman above) was right. Big Blue Nation is one big family. We wipe each others' tears when it's a tough loss, cheers to the wins, and overall have faith in our Cats.
Bottom line, it's more than just a game. In fact, I dare say it’s a way of life. When I make a to-do list, the UK game is right next to food which are both equally important and crucial for the survival of anyone part of Big Blue Nation.
Be sure to say hi to the woman with really blonde hair working with an official UK black polo on in Commonwealth Stadium this season. There's a 50/50 shot that it is me and I'd love to talk to you guys! In the words of a wise KY fan I think named Drake, "We have a really big team and we need some really big rings."