March Madness is here–and who better to find out about how deep team rivalries can go than to check in with a Louisville native, current resident and writer, Josh Bennett. The biggest and most well known rival teams in college basketball are the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals. Myself, being a Kentucky fan (yes, I said it!) reached out to a local Louisvillian to get a present day inside perspective of the rivalry…well, great and informative read, but for sure a little biased…but what can you expect? If you live in Louisville, the rivalry runs deep and long…
You can keep your Duke vs. North Carolina. I don’t want to hear about Michigan vs. Michigan State. I’m from Louisville, KY. The intrinsic epicenter of college athletics. There is NO rivalry besides ours. The University of Louisville and that school about 80 miles down the wrong side of Interstate 64 in Lexington, KY.
Your opinion may differ, but that’s because you’re not surrounded by your rival school’s crazed fans, the Big Blue Nation. They’re everywhere, they’re aggressive, and they’re delusional! Some of my best friends are University of Kentucky fans…and I hate it! My own wife, the mother of my daughter (whose fandom is being heavily recruited by family members representing both Universities) loves the “Cayuts.” But in all reality, basketball is as far as the rivalry actually extends these days. And besides wins and losses, numbers don’t lie.
As easily as I could turn this in to a UK bash-fest, I won’t…a lot. We, as UofL fans within our own state and even city, deal with a fan base that wants their team to win every single game by no less than 60 points. They want your team to lose by 80 points, your star player to get injured, then get caught cheating, and so on and so on until they get the “Death Penalty” ruling from the NCAA. This is painting with a broad brush, but the percentage of craziness correlates with at least some spectrum of the fandom within BBN. The hate is wretched and very real.
It doesn’t help that times are tough for our men’s basketball program right now. A current and ongoing NCAA investigation into the program for some pretty heinous accusations has been the focal point for the majority of our season. And a recently, self-imposed, post season ban has made it hard to look forward to March. But the future still looks very bright. The women’s team is having a special season. The Football team continues to make a name for itself as an inevitable national player. A pre-season number 2 ranking for our baseball team promises a special trip on the road to Omaha ALL athletics are thriving at the University of Louisville.
The growth of the school itself, in my lifetime along, is appalling! When Rick Pitino coached at UK in the 1990’s, he said he used to fly his recruits in to Louisville so he could show them why they wanted to go to UK instead. I bet John Calipari doesn’t do that. The University is literally the heart of the city. It’s the pulse of progress and the hope for the possibilities of what may yet still be. We have to keep our heads up and thrive on our pride, because those around us only want to see you fail. As always it’s Louisville First Cards Forever #L1C4! Go Cards followed by “ Go, fill-in whoever happens to be playing UK next!”
Story by guest writer, Josh Bennett is a former Broadcast and Print Journalist for the US Army and present freelance writer. He is with the group Elephant Room, www.reverbnation.com/elephantroom . His label is Island Earth Records. Contact info: [email protected]
Cover photo found on WDRB.com