LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It’s early December, and that means one thing for sports fans in WAVE Country: It's time to watch some great college basketball.
Whether it’s Big Blue, CardNation or Hoosier Hysteria, the anticipation is all over Kentuckiana. And with good reason, as once again, the area boasts several national title contenders. Fandom for these programs runs deep, which often results in a strong dislike of the nearby rivals. But this basketball season, it’s important to look past the rivalry lines, and realize that we are fortunate to boast so many high-caliber basketball programs in our area.
As our country recovers from a very divisive election season, we seek respite as we often do, in sports. But all too often what we find in sports is the same divisive narrative. It’s easy to understand. Fandom is passed down from generations, shared with families, friends and schoolmates. We bleed the colors we fly, and feel a deep sense of loyalty. So it stands to reason that the other school, the rival, would be the antithesis of everything we hold dear. We condemn their fans, stereotype their players, and are hypercritical of every move those programs make.
But at the core, we have so much in common. We can all be found gathering in our sacred basketball arenas, or around our TVs, sharing a beer and rooting for our squads. We are all 100-percent free throw shooters from our living rooms, and we have the greatest view of any call Ted Valentine or John Higgins obviously got wrong.
And we share a lack of acknowledgment of the glory around us. The fandom runs so deep, it’s hard sometimes to even acknowledge that our rival schools exist. Even harder still to admit they might do something right. But deep down, in places we don’t talk about at parties, we know we’re fortunate. From the Yum! Center to Rupp Arena, from Assembly Hall to Mackey Arena -- so many good programs call this area home.
Sure, there are other areas in the country that have great college basketball traditions. North Carolina boasts a couple of pretty good schools. Michigan and Ohio have their fun. Massachusetts’ claim to fame is being the genesis of college basketball, but here in WAVE Country, we’ve reached maximum levels of hardwood greatness.
Legendary coaches and players have left their marks on all of these programs. All of the aforementioned arenas have banners in the rafters and Hall of Fame coaches and players in their histories. Adolph Rupp, Bobby Knight, Gene Keady, Denny Crum, Isiah Thomas, Darrell Griffith, Rick Mount and the roughly one million Wildcats currently in the league are just some of the game’s greatest to have called this area home.
So as another season of highly contested hoops on the home front gears up, we should keep in mind that we are an anomaly. We lay claim to more basketball excellence per capita than any other spot on the planet; that's a scientific fact. But with great power comes great responsibility, so let us be civil in our fandom, respectful in our discourse and appreciative of the gift we’ve been given. That's the gift of incredible college hoops.
Copyright 2016, WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.