Kentucky is the state of basketball. It's taken very seriously in the Bluegrass State, as can be seen on any Twitter account, Facebook page, or blog that covers any corner of the state. The majority of the population bleeds blue for the Wildcats of The University of Kentucky. There are flags hanging from homes, cars, and buildings. You can bet the farm that more than one person will have painted themselves blue in the stands by tip-off time in Rupp Arena. Big Blue Nation (BBN) packs the house no matter where the Cats are playing. It is impossible to go anywhere in the state and not see the interlocking UK plastered somewhere. But there are other fan bases within the state lines, and they take it to heart just as strongly as BBN, though there are far fewer of them.
The Cardinals of The University of Louisville roost only 76 miles northwest of Rupp Arena at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. The fans fill up the arena and deck out in red and have the occasional black out. The fans love their team just as much as BBN. Every year the Wildcats and the Cardinals take part in the Battle of the Bluegrass. It's far more than just a non-conference match-up when these two rivals meet. This is for basketball supremacy in the Bluegrass, a title that can be claimed only once every season. Except for this season when the two met in New Orleans for a match-up in the Final Four. For a fan of basketball, you couldn't have asked for a better scenario, other than it being for the Championship. We all know how that game played out, but I am not here to praise the Cats, nor am I here bash the Cards.
This state was completely wrapped up in that game, and are every time they play, but this was something unique. The rivalry could split a household, cause best friends to not speak, and make parents disown their children. There is a lot of tension between these two fan bases that, to me, it's almost comical. Don't get me wrong I personally want UK to win every matchup against Louisville, but I am a Racers fan and have been since childhood. I want Murray State to win every game they play. The Wildcats are my second team, and believe it or not the Cardinals are third. Other than when those teams play each other, I cheer on all of them.
I've always believed that basketball is life in Kentucky, though I never played. The sport has embedded itself deep within this state. It's hold is evident because nearly all high schools in the state have a basketball team. It is played all over the state in gyms, yards, and blacktops. If you're driving around in Kentucky, you'll see basketball hoops every where in nearly every driveway. So I see all six Division I NCAA programs in Kentucky as the representatives to prove the Bluegrass as superior. In my eyes if my team can't win the championship, then I want one of the other five Kentucky schools to go as far into the tournament as they can.
Instead of banner counting and belittling each other, just let the game speak for itself. No matter how many times you've won in the past, it's about the game that happens that year. Louisville fans have a right to brag for a year if they win the game, and same goes for BBN when they win. The state shouldn't be full of hate for all the other programs in the state. Kentucky should be proud of all accomplishments of all basketball programs in the state, this season alone saw four of the six in March Madness. That makes me proud of our state, although I may not live here my entire life, Kentucky, the state of basketball, will always be home.