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Vaught’s note: David Brock is a page designer at The Advocate-Messenger, former high school athlete and life-time University of Kentucky fan. Enjoy his take on the success Louisville athletics has had — and see if you share his feelings and/or pain.

By DAVID BROCK, dbrock@amnews.com

What a year for University of Louisville athletics.

Ouch. That does sting.

Writing that, or even acknowledging it privately, was painful. However, it pales in comparison to the cumulative toll the justifiably squawking, constantly pecking flock of UofL enthusiasts have started to take.

Given the months-long Cardinal siege, Advocate-Messenger sports editor, Larry Vaught, was curious just how well this unhinged University of Kentucky alum and fan was holding up. The answer is a bit complicated, but I believe the character Roger Sterling from the TV show “Mad Men” may have come as close as anyone to expressing the inner life of sickos like me right now: “I don’t feel anything.”

UofL is on a remarkable run, but they haven’t merely excelled. #L1C4 has hit UK fans where it hurts and done it under the bright lights, with the world watching.

Consider…

Pitino couldn’t win one without being headquartered in Lexington? Now he’s got his (belated) UofL title and a tattoo of Little Brother’s lame Twitter marketing slogan.

Louisville plays in an inferior football conference? Well, they’re heading to a better one and taking the soul out of an SEC powerhouse on the way out the door. When’s the last time UK beat Florida?

Matthew Mitchell’s got the women on a collision course with the Final Four and he can get busy on the dance floor? At least when Jeff Walls gets beat down by a women’s powerhouse the music at the Big Dance has reached its crescendo.

How’d UK do in the NIT? Oh, really? Robert Morris, huh? Shame.

Along the way, local and national media outlets have perpetuated the sports coverage equivalent of a Yum!Center “red out.”  UofL Athletic Director Tom Jurich has basically had a free, 24-hour platform to showcase his sports programs, along with his deservedly-cocky attitude and endless collection of mock turtlenecks.
It has indeed been difficult to stomach, especially in light of Kentucky’s brief return to mediocrity.

I would be remiss if I didn’t address the question that was asked incessantly over the last several months about whether UK fans should root for their bitter rivals without their own skin in the game. I honestly didn’t get how that narrative was so prevalent. While I understand the premise, and fair points can be made in support of supporting our in-state rivals, why can’t fans hardwired to oppose everything from the other teams’ coaches, to their colors, would suddenly be compelled to feign excitement for each other.

Did UofL fans support UK in last year’s tournament? At any of the admittedly low-level bowl games we made it to under Rich Brooks? I suspect not.

There are nice, sane and mature people who call themselves UK fans and did cheer loudly for UofL. While I don’t have real hate in my heart for UofL or their fans, I guess don’t need sports to be nice, sane or mature all the time. So, no, I didn’t root for UofL, but didn’t actively root against them in any of their final three games. I was resigned to their ultimate triumph and even able to acknowledge they were the best team. (Although I was really taken by that Spike Albrecht kid for Michigan. I didn’t not fist pump after his third three-pointer, but I swear it was involuntary).

A certain amount of respect for what UofL’s basketball and football teams accomplished, and how they did it, crept into my sports-addled mind. On a scale of “grudging respect” to “healthy respect,” it probably hewed more toward grudging with a side of disdainful. Considering the pinwheel-eyed hatred Louisville teams have stirred in me before I was rather proud of my progress.

Like most flesh-and-blood humans, I also watch sports for the chance to see the  human spirit triumph over adversity. I was duly shocked, then moved by the Kevin Ware storyline like everyone else.

I remain realistic, though. Some things won’t change, and don’t necessarily need to, about the nature of sports rivalries.

Whether a few UK fans pull for UofL or vise versa, the sibling rivalry will always be a mirror that shapes the way we see ourselves and our schools. Right now, my mirror is of the funhouse variety and I appear to be getting crushed by a giant red fecal factory with wings perched on my back.
Pessimism hasn’t completely taken root.

It’s difficult for me to even let myself think about what next year’s basketball team could be. I’m more excited for UK’s football future with every Stoops recruiting victory.

But Vaught was probably right about my chances of washing away any of this feeling before next basketball season. Unfortunately, the existential dread expressed in this column could have a long shelf life.

9 Responses to Guest post: Die-hard Kentucky fan struggling to cope with all of Louisville’s athletic success

  • Juan4UK says:

    Well, that was colorful!

  • Larry Pup says:

    Well said David. My only thought? You were far to nice to a Louisville program that is on a big run right now. They better enjoy, because Big Blue looms in their future.

  • Theresa Crow says:

    Thank goodness I do not have to deal with gloating by UofL fans here in Nashville. However, there are a few UofL fans in my office. After their win, I behaved the way my mama raised me…I congratulated them on their win. Last year, I mostly received congrats on the Cats win from fans of other schools not named UofL who work with me. I might have done my mama’s raising a disservice if I had to live with what I read (on blogs) from those UK fans who live in and near Louisville. Thanks David and Larry for sharing this. BTW, I think the Cards should enjoy this year because their success may be short-lived.

  • Steve says:

    UofL fans are poor losers and poor winners. Glad someone finally mentioned the ridiculous propaganda UL spun about UK fans not rooting for them. What’s sad is that some UK fans reacted to it and did cheer for them. They’d never do so for UK. This last year was drawn up for UL to win it. They couldn’t have lost in the tourney if they tried, (see Wichita State). Calling it the way the refs did/didn’t, there was no point in thinking it would go differently. At least UK earns their titles.

  • yvette F says:

    It has been hard here in Louisville for us BBN fans!

  • Evil Twin Sister says:

    I understand how painful it is for him. I live in Lexington West the home of that ‘other’ team and their insane clown fans. I am so sick and tired of their better then thou attitude. Seems little brother thinks this is The Championship of the Century. Well, let me tell you, they will always be playing catch up. As far as I am concerned they do not exist, they are still has beens and wannabes. They will never have the multitude of fans around the world as UK. They will never have the tradition or history, the number of All Americans, the number of players in the NBA, nor the love and devotion like the BBN shows for the team(s). little slick quick rick does not realize the reason he is going into the Hall of Fame is because of Kentucky. Look how long it took him to get a championship at that ‘other’ school. He nailed the last nail in his coffin as far as I am concerned when he got that ugly tattoo. What a jerk, looks like something a punk coach would do. Of course he put it where no one but the blonde bimbos would ever see it. I so wish I would win the lottery, I would move to Lexington faster then a speeding train. I would leave tire tracks on little slick quick ricks face! I can’t take away from little slick quick rick what he did for UK but it does not mean I have to like him now. I did not and have not pulled for that ‘other’ school since that Italian pigs foot has been at that school. He is a disgrace to coaching with his lower then a sewer gutter morals. He fired one coach, a former UK player, while he was in Boston for doing the same thing he did. However, that low life ‘other’ school gave him a $5 mil bonus for doing nothing in the league that year except putting his 15 seconds of shame on the front page of every newspaper and website across the globe.

    • Steve says:

      @Evil Twin Sister

      Pitino embodies the spirit of that school in all he’s done since being there. He kisses the press with that mouth and they eat it up. The tattoo thing just makes me think tattoos are suddenly sleazy. The media fawns. UK fans yawn and roll their eyes. The city and UL that don’t want to be part of KY sure want KY to be cheering for them and sending their kids to school there. Knowing the like of Pitino is what they aspire to, that’s not such a great idea.

  • LindaS says:

    You got that right Steve. BTW I wrote that as Evil Twin Sister. You might be new here and don’t know about her! LOL I’m harmless but get really mad sometimes when it comes to certain things.

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