Nuts over Basketball in the Bluegrass State

Nuts over basketball in the Bluegrass State
                 UK–Louisville-Murray State

Yes, we are nuts over basketball in the Bluegrass State. But it can’t be helped.

I’ve enjoyed reading all the tweets during the NCAA tournament. One in particular last night read, “I am SICK, SICK, SICK of always watching Kentucky and Michigan teams in the NCAA.”

Sorry about your luck, buddy.

You see, here in Kentucky we live, breathe, and eat basketball. It starts when we are barely able to walk and someone shoves a basketball into our pudgy fingers.

It continues on throughout our childhood, whether at school or at home. Summer evening games played with a tilted backboard and a hoop with no net. Playing long after dark with no yard light, the goal all but invisible. Bounce, bounce, thump. Bounce, bounce, thump.

Some of us were no good at basketball–just didn’t have any aptitude. But virtually everyone in the state is a fan of the sport. From the rivers in the west to the mountains in the east. From the counties where you can look over into Tennessee, to the river counties bordering Hoosiers and Buckeyes. You can’t get away from basketball if you live in Kentucky. It’s best to just embrace it.

We watch the games and buy the merchandise. UK and Louisville license plates are ubiquitous. Flags and window dressings adorn houses. Decals and stickers are stuck on everything.

We talk basketball at work, after church, and online. We tweet, text, and call our friends about it. We have tournament parties where we scream over every basket and argue over every call. It’s just who we are.

So, yes, we are nuts over basketball in Kentucky. That’s one way to look at it. And it doesn’t even matter that most of the college players weren’t born and raised in the Bluegrass State. Once you play for Kentucky you are ours.

We will support you, lift you up, learn your stats. If you help win games you will be revered. You’ll be invited to schools and fundraisers. You’ll be praised on radio, television, and in the press.

Rightly or wrongly, we treat our coaches like deities. Pitino and Calipari are living legends. Adolph Rupp (“The Baron of the Bluegrass”) , Joe B. Hall, Tubby Smith, are names as familiar as our own grandparents.

So, you can call us cuckoo for cocoa puffs, nutty as a fruitcake, or whatever term you like. We are a little ball-crazy here in the Bluegrass.

And we’re darn good at it too.


© Wade Kingston


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