Big Blue Nation will be cheering for a different shade of blue tonight as the Michigan Wolverines take on the Louisville Cardinals in the last game of the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament. The championship is on the line and Kentucky fans have been caught in an awkward position as Louisville fans have been insisting that we drop the rivalry tonight and cheer for the Cardinals.
Personally, I say screw that. Last season when Kentucky beat Louisville in the Final Four there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of support from Card Nation. In fact, they were rooting fervently against Kentucky in the title game. Louisville blog site and Kentucky fan public enemy number one, the Card Chronicle, posted a live game thread in which Cardinal fans trashed Kentucky and openly wished for players to injure themselves during the game so that Kansas would have a chance to win.
Now that the tables are turned we are expected to be the good guys and turn the other cheek. Not gonna happen.
I was challenged by a random Louisville fan in a park in Louisville on Saturday as to why I wasn’t on my way to watch the game. My wife and I informed the Louisville fan that we were enjoying the park with our family and that I was a Kentucky fan and the game really didn’t matter to me. He became extremely agitated and then started lecturing me about how good for the state it would be if Louisville won and how I should go home to watch the game and root for the Cards. To that, I bid the man farewell and walked the other way. This is just an example of what many Kentucky fans have gone through in the past week.
Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio lays out his view on this unique quandary quite eloquently:
Now maybe I missed something, but I don’t exactly remember a groundswell of support from Card Nation last year as UK went for a Championship. Beyond Rick Pitino’s supposed “bring the title back to Kentucky” statement to Calipari at the end of the semi-final (which I have a hard time believing was either (a) said or (b) if said, heartfelt), I dont recall much movement from the UL faithful to “get behind the Wildcat Blue.” In fact, I recall the opposite…a city full of newly-found Jayhawk supporters hoping to keep “that dirty, cheating Calipari and his one and done nomads” (actually they didn’t use the word nomad because that would have required too great a vocabulary) from realizing a dream. And you know what? That didn’t bother me one bit. WE ARE RIVALS! WE ARE SUPPOSED TO ROOT AGAINST EACH OTHER! Duke and North Carolina don’t pull for each other….neither do Michigan and Ohio State…Alabama and Auburn or the Yankees and Red Sox. We engage in a friendly (at least most of the time) rivalry that sees you hoping your team wins, while the other correspondingly loses. UL fans saying “Gardner Webb” and “Robert Morris”, while UK fans respond with “Morehead State”, is what it is all about. Yes, in serious moments, such as during the Ware injury, we rally together to realize something bigger than a game and show our common humanity. That is why so many Kentucky fans (this one included) were happy for the players when they won the Duke game after such a difficult moment. But when the dust settles, we are still rivals, part of which assumes a level of friendly dislike.
Well said, Mr. Jones
This is a front on which all Kentucky fans should be united. Even if you don’t feel like tuning in and openly rooting against Louisville, at least don’t tune in at all. I have family members, including my younger brother, that are Louisville fans. I wish them no ill will and I am happy that my brother is happy about the success of his favorite team; but I’m not rooting for the Cardinals just like he will never root for the Wildcats. We understand this and still love each other as brothers do. We talk on holidays and share beers together while watching HBO’s Game of Thrones or AMC’s The Walkling Dead. Heck, we can even watch sports together and will tolerate one another when our teams face off, but never will we cheer for the rival.
Facebook, Twitter and social media have made things even worse. The ugliness in which ‘Cat fans have been greeted with for not supporting Louisville has been greeted with Internet nerd fights in which the likes have never been seen. The hostility that Cardinal fans have toward Kentucky fans has been unprecedented and has actually taken my dislike of Louisville to a whole new level.
I myself will not be watching the game. I will catch up on some shows on DVR and hit the sack a little earlier tonight and will hopefully miss out on the chaos that will envelope the city after a win or a loss.
But I will give one last “Go Blue” to support the Michigan Wolverines.