I had a shirt made especially for The Game
True confession: I live in Kentucky and I don't watch basketball. I don't “bleed blue” and though I suppose I technically bleed red, that doesn't make me a fan of one university over another one. Sports events look like this to me. I am a voracious fan of new experiences though, so I'm quite pleased to have the chance to attend the University of Louisville vs. University of Kentucky game tonight in Indianapolis. The VisitIndy folks were kind enough to invite my husband Brian and me to spend the weekend getting to know our neighbor to the north, and to Brian (a Cardinals fan and on-and-off U of L student), this was pretty much the best invitation ever. So we're headed to join the 40,000 screaming fans tonight at Lucas Oil Stadium. And they're certain to all be screaming, all night. (It's easy, by the way, for the non sports inclined to ridicule those exceedingly enthusiastic, trash-talking, red or blue-swathed fans. They do make an easy target sometimes. But when I'm tempted to join the making fun I try to remember that I have my own passions that can run overboard.)
Much of our Commonwealth seems to have talked of little other than the game this week, and I feel like possibly the only person in Kentucky who doesn't have a vast personal stake in the outcome of the game. So I thought about trying to pick a team to root for. However, you're looking at a former middle school cheerleader who thought the D in “Go Big D” stood for the Nancy Dragons (I learned 20 years later that the D stood for Defense) and I choose my Derby horses as often as not on their name or the color of the jockey's silks – or just on how pretty they are – so I quickly abandoned the idea of making a sport-based decision. Then it occurred to me that maybe I just need to determine whether I'm a Kentuckian first, or a Louisvillian. And that's a tough one.
When someone out of state asks where I'm from, my prompt and proud response is Louisville. “Bourbon country,” I'll usually add with a wide smile. But when in another country, I answer Kentucky (hastening to add that it's home to the Kentucky Derby, not KFC – to little success, unfortunately; people love their fried chicken in many parts of the world). I know that a common feeling in my state is that Kentucky is not Louisville and vice versa. But I've lived in the hills and on the lakes and down the dirt roads --- and I chose the urban and diverse offerings of Louisville as my home nearly 10 years ago. How can I not be both?
Being raised in rural Kentucky shaped how I grew up, and I thrived upon moving to Louisville. I can't choose which is more important any more than I can pick a favorite between my two pups. So when I go to the game tonight I won't be there as a Cards or Cats fan – I'll just be there as an enthusiastic Louisvillian/Kentuckian. Go team!
P.S. Wish my husband better luck than me picking a side; he's from Michigan and made Kentucky his home 18 years ago. If it happens that his home state plays his adopted state, my sports-ting husband will have a tough call.