Bashing UK fans is probably not the best way to bring more readers to this site but I do have an issue with a certain segment of Big Blue Nation. I’m referring to those whose devotion to the Wildcats has caused them to reject anything but the most positive news regarding their favorite team. (Grammatically incorrect, longwinded rant coming). These people include those who defended Gillispie to the bitter end (not because they necessarily liked him, but simply because he was The Coach), those who equate Jerry Tipton with Satan, those who view any criticism of a UK player as an act of terrorism against the state and use the defense that, ‘They’re just kids’… Actually, they’re not. It’s called Men’s basketball. If you’re old enough go to war you’re probably old enough to have your jump shot critiqued, and generally just anyone whose greatest fear in life is that which may ‘hurt the program’, their precious, precious program.
Now, before any of you start calling for my deportation back to New England, I want to stress I really do love UK basketball and UK sports in general. As I mentioned in my first post, I consider myself a loyal Kentucky fan since 1996. Despite my passion for the team, I don’t live in the fantasy world that some fans seem to. Kentucky is not infallible and those that want to pretend it is are actually doing a disservice to the program, and being bad Christians (!!!) The logic here being that holding people (players, coaches, World Wide Weses) accountable for their actions will help prevent these negative actions, whatever they may be, from occurring in the future. It is possible to be critical of a team while still being a true fan of that very same team. Pretty crazy, I know.
I’m sure many of you don’t see how any action that brings us closer to a championship could be negative. A common sentiment seems to be that player/coach transgressions should be overlooked/downplayed while recruiting violations should be almost encouraged. The problem with this thinking, aside from the blatant moral shadiness, is that in the long run it won’t even help win games. The more bad behavior is accepted, the more prevalent and worse it becomes. (Pretty sure I got that from Dr. Phil.) The counterargument to this, at least in regards to the recruiting aspect, was summed up fairly accurately by the great Sir Charles Barkley. He said something to the effect of, ‘You ain’t tryin if you ain’t cheatin.’ There is some truth to this. In the hyper-competitive world of big time college sports, a program must constantly be willing to push the envelope, not just to get ahead, but simply to keep up. While this drive to succeed should be commended, it must also be watched. Doing whatever it takes to win can quickly become a very slippery slope. One day John Wall is suspended for an exhibition game, next we’re vacating Final Fours, losing scholarships, and all going to Hell. I know that was a rather insane leap but my point is that if we create a culture where UK can do no wrong, we’re going to be destined a for a rude awakening. That said, Go Cats!