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Guest post: It’s not easy growing up blue in a red town


I see red on a daily basis and I live in a town where the college team likes to name their venues after fast food joints. Tom Jurich, the biggest investor of turtle necks known to man, is considered the best Athletic Director in the universe around these parts and the Big East is the one and only elite basketball conference in the history of of the sport. I live in Louisville and I’m a Kentucky fan …. this is my life.

It’s not easy growing up blue in a red town. Both sides are extremely passionate about their school/team and bragging rights are what it is all about. As the annual football and basketball games approach each year, disagreements break out in classrooms, offices, and sports bars. On game day friends become enemies, so much so it becomes impossible at times to watch the game in the presence of these obnoxious fans.

Let me give you a little example of a story I witnessed first-hand. When I was in high school I knew a girl and a guy who were both big sports fans. The girl was raised right and cheered for the Wildcats while the guy had the misfortune of being a Cardinal fan. One day in biology, a few minutes before the bell rang to signal it was time for class to start, a verbal disagreement broke out between this girl and this guy. They were discussing the red and blue basketball teams and each stating their case as to why each team should win. The girl was sitting in her desk with about three books sitting on the desktop, the guy was standing in front of her and leaning down in her face…obviously bothering the girl as he continued to obnoxiously plea his case for the Cards. The guy then said, “Kentucky sucks!” The girl then reacted by slapping him straight across the face…so hard it briefly left a hand print on his face.

As he stood there fuming, his face red and imprinted, he reacted by swinging his hand across the girl’s desk and throwing her books across the room. All of this simply over the UK/UL rivalry. In Louisville it can get very heated, and many fans across the state may not even consider slick Rick and his Cardinals the biggest rival of the Wildcats. I can tell you, if you live in or around Louisville, there is no doubt who the biggest rival is, and those fans live this rivalry day in and day out, all year long.

If someone asked you the opposite color of blue you would probably say red. Not only are the colors conflicting but the fan bases are completely different. One fan base tries to be something they aren’t and the other fan base believes they rule the kingdom. Another thing, have you ever seen an actual cardinal bird with teeth (creepy)? Louisville fans arrive to the game late and leave the game early and wonder why they are called fair weather. All of these factors are part of what makes this rivalry one of the best, if not the best, in the country.

Fans of both teams watch each other’s games cheering for whomever their opponent might be. In the same instance, if their opponent pulls the upset, that rival fan celebrates as if their team won the game themselves. To this day UofL sports talk radio shows talk about the Patrick Sparks shuffle from 2004 while Wildcat fans claim everyone walks if you put them in slow motion. Kentucky fans look back on the 1983 dream game and shutter when they remember how it ended. This rivalry is one that is competitive, intense, and at times ….. low down and dirty.

When that ball is tipped on Saturday, both fanbases will be holding their breath. Will 2012 be their year to brag and boast … or will they have to wait 364 more days to get back their in-state pride?

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  1. Jan in Ind

    I know I’m in the minority here but it would not bother me one bit if this one game was taken off the schedule from now on. I hate the hype and will not listen to the sports for the week before the game because of the fans being after each other. I’m really picky about what I read about the game before it is played. If kentucky wins I read the sports and watch the sports but if they do not I will not read or watch the sports because I do not want to see the other school’s fans putting UK down for one regular season game. I’m a true Blue CAT fan, proud to be a member of BBN, however if Kentucky wins you will never hear me saying anything about the other school or the game to their fans, I will talk about the game to Kentucky fans. I do not like confrontation, and to be truthful Larry I have not read the articles you have had on the site this week that had your co-workers talking about the CATS and Cards, Coach Cal and R Pitino or Rupp Arena vs the Yum Center. Like I said I know I’m in the minority and everyone has a right to their own opinion, this is just mine.

  2. TheProfessor

    I am with Jan about this series being discontinued, because it should have never been started in the first place.

  3. LindaS

    Courtney, I feel your pain. I too live where you live but I refer to it as Lexington West. little slick quick rick and his turd birds don’t exist as far as I am concerned. I ignore them and their fans.

  4. Jackie

    It IS rough being a Wildcat fan in Louisville. Everyday at work, and I mean EVERYDAY, I hear so much hatred from Card fans. I was never one to berate other teams until I realized the relentless bashing of my team would not stop, and I could not allow my team to go undefended. Each and every day, I hear about Coach Cal and how much of a cheater he is, “how much do your players cost?,” the Cardinal stock question of “when was your last Championship?” (12 years more recently than YOUR last championship, you mathemagician), and the classical/ witty “Kentucky just sucks.” This game holds a lot of weight around these parts, if it were EVER taken off the schedule, I’m not sure I could live here anymore. At least we get one opportunity a year to shut down these second rate fans and their exhausting mouths. It would be different if they were reasonable, but you can’t even talk to them. In their opinion they are, always have been, and always will be the best. Yet, when you throw out statistical evidence to the contrary, that actually the Kentucky Wildcats are the winningest program of all time, they become belligerent. This game probably means more to UK fans who have to live in Louisville than anyone else. We have to see their dumb arena (the Crumb Bucket) everyday, see their loud red sweatshirts everywhere, hear about Charlie Strong and how he is the second-coming, see their crappy merchandise at the grocery, witness their terribly selfish driving, and hear their inflated opinions of their team. But, I guess jealousy is love and hate at the same time.

    1. larryvaught

      Jackie, be strong. At least it is nice to know there are so many UK fans in Louisville

      1. LoveSECFootball

        The percentage of U.K. fans compared to U. of L. in the city of Louisville is much higher than many think.

        1. larryvaught

          yes it is

  5. dan simon

    You folks don’t know tough unless you’re the only Cat fan out of your side of the family(immediate family-daughters and thankfully their husbands were raised right)but sister-in-law-niece and husband and daughter- 2 nephews-numerous great nieces and nephews- all for the ugly red- God forgive them for they know not what they do.

    1. larryvaught

      Dan, UK fans can feel your pain for sure

      1. Stevecurran

        Aldoph never played them because he said they had nothing to loose and we had everthing to loose and nothing to gain.

        1. larryvaught

          good memory steve


    I had no problems growing up in Louisville being a UK fan. I lived off Preston Highway, between Indian Trail and Gilmore lane. I went to High School at Seneca, there were a few UL fans there, but the majority of people I know and seen around, were UK fans. I guess I was lucky in that respect.

    Being here in NC, I don’t really catch a lot of grief being a UK fan unless it’s football season. That’s when I break out the “thick skin” from the closet. :)

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