Originally written for A Sea of Blue:
At the beginning of the season in both sports, hope always springs eternal. So maybe I should have been more specific and titled this, “why I get more excited at the beginning of Kentucky Football season than for the beginning ofKentucky Basketball. I’ll admit that I’m usually more pumped for an NCAA Tournament run under Coach Cal than I am when Kentucky Football comes to a screeching halt at the end of November with postseason hopes six feet under.
Regardless, I’m still a junkie when it comes to Kentucky Football. Much like the weakness I have for hot chicken, the same is true for UK Football. No matter how bad we may stink when all’s said and done, there’s something about it that keeps me coming back for more. No matter how miserable I may feel sometimes after consuming Kentucky Football or hot chicken, I still get excited when I sense them in the air again.
With that little analogy, here are five reasons I get more excited for Kentucky Football season than for Kentucky Basketball season:
1. Outdoors > Indoors
When you think back on your greatest moments or memories in your life, for how many of those do you recall being inside? For me, it’s maybe about 20 percent. And it doesn’t even really matter what I’m doing…my mood is exponentially better when I’m outdoors. The only exceptions are if the temp is in the highest of highs, lowest of lows, or when it’s the deepest of snows…but those usually don’t occur in the fall, which brings me to reason number two…
2. Fall > Winter
Just as outdoors > than indoors; fall > winter. Unfortunately, fall in Lexington usually seems like the shortest season of any. It’s hot, with high’s still in the 80’s till mid-September, and sometimes high’s stay in the mid-70’s even into early October. Then once the second week of November hits, you’re like ‘damn, the it’s only getting up to 44 today? And rainy?’
Sometimes it feels like we only get two or three weeks of fall. But when we do…when you can go eat beer cheese and brats and drink cold beer in the sun all day, with jeans and a sweatshirt on; when the high only gets to about 55 or 60 and then maybe down to 45 or 50 when the sun sets right after the first quarter; And you also feel epicly comfortable because, maybe you have a little bourbon flask in your pocket that you’ve been pouring into your stadium cup; it’s days like that can make any crappy game worth all the while.
3. Scarcity of Product
Basic economics, folks. Supply and demand. Fewer games and even fewer home games. Less opportunities to experience the bliss that is a clear autumn night when the ‘Baw Cats’ get the ‘W’ at CWS.
Going further, I’d argue that an unexpected Kentucky Football win usually trumps most every Kentucky Basketball win, with a few exceptions: if UK wins an Elite Eight/Final Four/National Championship game, or, if UK beats Louisville. That’s pretty much it. So when the football wins come, it usually makes for a much bigger party.
4. Event Length/Environment
Since football games last longer than basketball games, added with the scarcity of the product, the pleasant weather, and being outdoors; fans are more inclined to make an entire day-long event out of a football game than a basketball game.
It’s almost like the decision to attend a college football game/tailgate absolves you of all your worries, errands, and household chores for that day. You might as well have an away message on your phone: “can’t talk rn…at Commonwealth.”
If you have kids, or you’re generally just an overachiever, maybe that’s not the case for you. But the bottom line is that Kentucky Football brings people together in a way that most Kentucky Basketball games cannot.
5. The Double
This is where champions are made. The only sporting event in Lexington that comes close to replicating the atmosphere, environment, scarcity, and camaraderie of a Kentucky Football game is a Saturday at Keeneland. On the rare occasion that you’re able to pull off both in one day, you’re a winner in my book. Especially if you can find a way to win money at the track and cheer on the Cats to a win that night? I don’t think the latter has ever happened for me before, but it’s something we should all strive for.
Kentucky fans will have potentially two attempts at the double in 2016, as live racing at Keeneland spans from October 7-29. Kentucky plays host to Vanderbilt on October 8 and to Mississippi State on October 22. One of those games is bound to get picked up by the SEC Network as a night game, one would think.
My message to Kentucky Football fans ahead of this season:
Coaches and players come and go; the only constant is the fan base. If Kentucky fans are constantly whining about the potential of losing and keeping a negative attitude about each season, it helps no one, including the team. Creating an environment that fosters success begins and ends with attitude. As fans, the only thing we can do to help the team is to stay positive, and give these players and coaches – that have worked hard day in and day out this off-season – the encouragement they deserve.
See you on Saturday, BBN.