"Dude, you live in Indiana. How can you be a Kentucky fan?"
Like many boys growing up in the Hoosier state, I grew up with an intense passion for the game of basketball. I can't watch the movie Hoosiers without wanting to go outside to shoot some hoops pretending I'm MJ (I ignore the fact he is 53 years old). Like most Hoosiers, I had a basketball hoop in my driveway and played competitively for much of my young life. Based on the previous sentences alone, I should be an IU basketball fan. The Indiana Hoosier basketball team is the heartbeat of Indiana with a long history of success and a passionate fan base extending from Gary to Greenfield.
But I don't like the Hoosiers.
Not even a little bit. In fact, I loathe the Cream and Crimson. But this post isn't about my disdain for IU, it's about my love of another team. The Kentucky Wildcats.
You can find the Wildcats playing in the iconic Rupp Arena, located in historic West Lexington. If you listen close, you can hear the creaky floorboards worn in by four different national championship teams, while simultaneously witnessing celebrities like Jay-Z sharing a seat with a farmer in jean overalls. There's no denying it, Rupp Arena is a unique venue that has seen many successful players come through its hallowed grounds. From Pat Riley to John Wall, Kentucky fans are blessed to have seen such tremendous talents sport the white and blue.
But Kentucky having recent successes isn't why I like them. I mean, it's nice being able to root for a team that wins, but cheering on Kentucky is about more than picking a front runner.
It's the tradition and the passionate fan base that sets Kentucky apart.
While the appearance of the typical Kentucky fan may fit every hilarious stereotype, Kentucky fans are amazing. They show up at every game, home or away, and provide an amazing atmosphere with their hysteria. They may be more Tractor Supply and less Tiffany, but this blue collar community has an immediate impact on each game, and I am proud to be one of them.
Since the appointment of John Calipari, Kentucky teams have relied on young, talented players that rarely stay for over a year. While this makes being a fan frustrating for having to learn a new set of names each year, watching the youthful joy and swagger these kids play with will definitely bring a smile to your face.
So, if you're a casual basketball fan and are not sure who to cheer for during March Madness because A.) your team didn't make the tourney or B.) because Mercer ruined your bracket already, I encourage you to give Kentucky a try, you just might like it. I know I do.