I don’t think I have to tell any of you how little I care about sports. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching a game of whatever here and there (I’d rather go to a game than watch one on TV, not that that happens very often), but for the most part I don’t care who wins. The other day was different, though. UK playing Louisville in the Final Four – hell, yeah, I had to watch that one. (Let’s ignore that I don’t care even a little when they play each other during the rest of the year. The NCAA tournament is different. It is.)
So even though I didn’t go to UK or U of L, even though I haven’t lived in Kentucky since 1997, even though I’ve only been to ONE college basketball game in my life (and that was at GW, not either UK or U of L), I HAD to watch this game, and, like I have during every game I’ve watched since 1987, I cheered (and gasped and yelled) for UK. (Are you thinking that that last clause sounds like I root for UK even when they’re not playing? Well, maybe I do. Even though it makes no sense. I’m loyal that way.)
Why 1987? It’s more complicated than just that that’s the year we moved to Kentucky. That’s the year I had to pick a side. Or else. Picture 8-year-old me. I was in third grade, brand new school, brand new state. One of the first things I remember somebody saying to me at school was completely unintelligible. “Yookay or Yoovell?” “What?” More insistently, “Yookay or Yoovell?” I had NO idea what they were saying to me, and they couldn’t understand what was so hard about the question. (I don’t even know why it mattered right then. It was too early for basketball season, and football doesn’t really count in Kentucky.) Somehow it got through to me what they were asking, but I still had NO idea what the right answer was, or why anyone cared which one I picked, and why won’t they stop asking and leave me alone? I remember asking them which one they were for, getting more Yookays then Yoovells, and going with the Yookay kids. (It was the right answer for several reasons.) Somewhere along the line I made the mental switch from Yookay and Yoovell to the actual school names, and then Allison introduced me to Travis Ford and his three-pointers (Not literally, of course. She didn’t know him, but he was only 5’6″ and rarely missed, and she had a crush on him. We were 14.), and I started watching games. Just in time, too, since that was 1993-94, and the championship wins were ’96 and ’98.
I fell off the wagon after that, though. I watched the ’98 tournament by myself in college (I couldn’t believe I knew so many people who didn’t know what March Madness was) and then paid very little attention to basketball except for the occasional UK game (and that one UNC game we watched the night of Jess and Chuck’s wedding). Even though I enjoy the games when I watch them, the paying very little attention part is still true and unlikely to change.
Still, UK playing UofL in the Final Four is pretty awesome (especially with Rick Pitino (the UK coach during the years I cared) coaching UofL now), and I didn’t want to miss it. And considering what a good game it was, I’m glad I didn’t. Even John watched it, although he was rooting for UofL (For reasons unknown. Out of a sense of balance? An appreciation of how well they were playing? Solidarity with Mark? Sheer orneriness?) UK won, I cheered, and the championship game is tonight. I could watch it. I might watch it. What time does it start?
Whoa, whoa, whoa. The game doesn’t start until nearly 9:30?
Yeah…I’m going to bed. UK, you’re on your own.