A year ago, I published this post regarding my reasons for being a University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball fan. With a nearly perfect record, last season was awesome. My stance on that subject has not changed. At all.
This year has been a more difficult year for the team. New players. Hurt players. Miscommunication. Lack of cohesion. Some painful, last minute losses. And haters.
There are some things I’ve learned through this season and as the team was eliminated from the championship in the Round of 32 to long-time rivals, Indiana. Am I disappointed? Absolutely! Any fan would be. Is it the end of the world? NO!
While I always want Kentucky to win, I’ve realized that life is so much like the life that March Madness takes on each year. I will always cheer for Kentucky. I will always cheer for the teams who play against teams that have taken down Kentucky in last-minute-unbelievable wins in the past. But I do not hate them. I do not wish for bad things to happen to their team or their players. In a recent game, when a talented opposing player went down on the court in obviously excruciating pain, for two seconds I thought, That’s a win for us. Yeah! But winning because their best player is hurt is not an honest, do-it-or-die win. It’s hollow and cheap. I would rather see Kentucky lose a game than win like that. There will be other games. Other seasons.
I’ve also seen comments on social media harshly judging players when they have a bad day or Coach Cal for the way he runs his program. These are kids, folks. Yes, they are adults according to society’s evaluation of their age in years. But they are kids. They are young. And green. And they have to work hard to not only
perfect improve their skill, but to work as a team, supporting each other. I know people far older who struggle with team-building skills at their jobs. Just because these young men are in the limelight doesn’t mean we have the right to demean them. Everyone has bad days. That’s how we appreciate the good ones. And I have to give kudos to Coach Cal for taking a group of young boys and teaching them how to play together for the good of the team. He’s doing an awesome job, and even when he is tough on them, calling out their inconsistencies, he remembers that they are just kids and need to know they are valued for whatever they contribute.
Let’s face it, folks. As another Kentucky fan reminded me recently, we are spoiled. We have gotten used to wins. We enjoy them. We count on them. We expect them. We have 8, count them, 8, E-I-G-H-T, national championships. That’s more than any other school except for UCLA. Add to that numerous conference championship titles. And Kentucky is the number 1 school represented in the NBA. That, my friends, is not shabby. And that is why other school’s fans
hate feel intimidated because of us. Recent losses can only make future wins sweeter.
Loyalty is what it’s all about. We can’t hold down our sofas or scream from the stands about what should or shouldn’t be done. At college games or in life. Cheer on the players when it’s their turn to play. Remind them they can try harder the next time. Ask them what they think can improve their game. And when it’s your turn (or mine) to get on the court, DO THE BEST YOU CAN DO AT THE MOMENT. That is loyalty. In your family. At your job. Or for the stranger who needs help opening a door because their hands are full. Life is a game. Some days we win. Others we lose and need to support others who are winning. No matter what, quitting is not an option.