In my home, the menfolk have crowned Kentucky Basketball as king. Right below Jesus, Kentucky Men’s Basketball and Coach Cal have a special place of honor. If there’s a game being played in the afternoon, Dad and Joshua rise extra early in order to finish all of the outside work before tipoff. However, during the work, the two talk back and forth like this:
“So, are we gonna win?”
“I don’t know, there’s a good chance. [Insert team] lost last week, so we have a really good chance.”
“I think we’re gonna win.”
However, growing up and living in Central Kentucky has made the obsession with basketball a given. Sons grow up playing on makeshift courts, imagining that every shot they make is the game winning score for a national championship. Basketball in these areas represents a sort of lifestyle, a part of American culture that is highly evident in everything from bumper stickers, t-shirts, and even through game attendance.
At least once a year, Dad and Joshua attempt to go to a UK game. Earlier in the week, Dad stated that he had two tickets and wanted my brother and I to go to the game. My brother, not one to miss any sports action, was eager to go and experience the action. On the way to the arena, he explained all aspects of the game, who would be in the starting line-up, and all the activities we needed to do (listen to the pep band, eat lunch in the food court, shop in the arena stores) before the game began. Of course, we did it all.
After listening to a live radio show, milling around the arena shopping area, and even sitting for a rest, Joshua decided that it was time to go into the arena. He showed me how to scan my ticket and found our seats. Once we were seated (in excellent seats, too), he proceeded to point out the players on the court. One by one, he said each name and where the player was from. I was impressed.
However, even though we were engrossed in the culture of the game, I admit that I’m not an adherent to the semi-religion of Kentucky Basketball. Even after the game started, after ten minutes, I started watching people. Old men stood and coached from their seats while younger fans hollered and some had painted their whole bodies blue. Joshua was alive with excitement, and stood frequently, clapping and shouting. I mostly sat and watched, curious as to what was behind the madness of the fans around me. Maybe it’s something that I’ll never know or understand.
Regardless, yesterday I had a nice time. I loved watching my brother get excited and explain things such as referee hand signs. After the game, we stayed for the coach’s post-game show, and Joshua was able to get his autograph, adding another piece to his growing UK memorabilia collection. When I asked him who was more fun to go to a game with, me or Dad, he was uttered a simple “Uhh…” I think it’s probably more fun to go somewhere with a person who knows more about the madness (such as Dad), but altogether, Joshua liked having me tag along. Sure, I don’t share his enthusiasm for the game or team, but it gave me the opportunity to get cultured.
At the game.