April 10, 2013

Direct Kick: A reader puts the whole UK-UofL rivalry into perspective

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — With Louisville winning the men’s NCAA title Monday night and women playing for the title last night, the commonwealth of Kentucky continues to flex its basketball muscle to the rest of the country.

Besides Louisville’s run this year, Georgetown won the NAIA national men’s title, the same title that the University of Pikeville won last year. Of course, Kentucky won the men’s NCAA title last season. Add to that the Kentucky Wesleyan and Bellarmine University men having claimed the NCAA Division 2 title over the past couple of years and you would have a hard time arguing against Kentucky being the best basketball state.

You would think that Kentuckians would be proud of all of these accomplishments, but the old UK-UofL rivalry makes it hard for fans of either school to root for the other. Facebook has been full of UK fans stating that they would rather root for Duke or Indiana than Louisville.

With that being said, I received an email entitled “Enough hate in the world, you can love both - UofL and UK” from someone who signed it “Proud retired military member from the State of Kentucky.” I thought I would share the email with you.

“I understand rivals and those who desire to dislike everything about the other team. Being a fan of both UofL and UK fan, I hate Duke. Anything to do with that school, its program, even down to the snobbish atmosphere you feel when on their campus and/or around their fans— cannot stand to see them do well.

“I could not understand how any UofL or UK fan could have that level of hate towards the other as we are all in the great State of Kentucky. I thought the reason I enjoy both is because I am retired military and that I have defended, proudly, anything from the “State of Kentucky”. When you are stationed with people from all over the States, you rally to home. When a UT (Texas) fan starts ragging about how the smallest college football team in their state could destroy an all star team of Kentucky schools put together; or when the SO-CAL (Southern California) fan says the entire State of Kentucky goes to school without shoes; or when the New York/New England area fan totally dismisses any sport in Kentucky because they are not pro teams— you really rally home and support “anything” from the state of Kentucky.

“But my love for both UofL and UK goes back to when I was in high school, it is just as an adult I also pull for all Kentucky schools. Eastern, Western, Kentucky State, Northern, Murray, Morehead, and so on—all deserve respect. Some friends that never left the state somewhat explained how a fan can love UofL or UK and hate the other. Very simple, their boundaries are smaller than mine. Some fans draw their boundary of “sport support” at their city or county line, and some do not. I am one who draws my lines around the entire state border and pull for (and enjoy watching) all teams within. Other fans split up the state and pull for only their area. I feel they are missing so much, but it is a choice.

“I thank those friends who have given me such sound simple advice—different boundaries. It used to drive me crazy to hear an only for UofL or only for UK fan to trash the other and many times sound so ignorant, all in an attempt to put the other down. I can now ignore that and understand their boundary. This can extend to world sports. I tell my friends that we here in the states are missing out of amazing world events all because the normal sport fan in the States does not see it. Example rugby and Aussie football both are fantastic sports.

“I realize that the military is but a fraction of the overall population and that I am a huge minority in all I have been exposed to. When you have seen other parts of the world that would love to kill any American just for being an American - the deeper banter between a UofL and UK fan appears so childish to me. But then again my friends come to my rescue and tell me because that immature mockery exists, it shows how well most people here in the states have it. So, the fan that can pull for anything Kentucky lives, as I am one and as far as the small (on the world stage of sports) wonderful State of Kentucky, I will continue to draw my line around the entire state of Kentucky and enjoy all success by any Kentucky team. I get my rivals and “dogging out” in against those not within my home state of Kentucky.”

Well said. You can root for your favorite team when they play each other, but when one team from Kentucky does well, the whole state does well.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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