I’ll admit it: Saturday was probably my lowest point as a Kentucky Football fan. As I said on our Big Blue Views podcast Monday night, it wasn’t the loss to Florida that upset me. It was how we lost. I won’t go into details of the game (haven’t we all lived and relived it enough already?). Instead, I’ll share my journey of emotions I’ve experienced since last weekend.
Saturday night: Embarrassment. Humiliation. Total confusion. Complete frustration.
That was a very painful night. Over the course of 40 years cheering for Kentucky Football, I’ve seen it all. The games won that we expected to lose? Check. The games lost that we expected to win? Double check. Games within our grasp until the final minutes, only to watch them slip away and end up as just another “L”? Check, double-check, rinse and repeat.
Saturday, however, was a different animal. Perhaps our expectations were too high, but I never foresaw a game where our Cats didn’t even resemble a Division I college team, much less one in the mighty SEC. Other than 2 or 3 players, the rest of the team seemed to have given up after roughly 3 series. I suppose it’s possible they didn’t really “give up”, but rather were shell-shocked and unable to perform. Maybe their expectations were too high, as well.
Whatever it was, I know this: I’d rather my team get beat 70-0, but fight like Wildcats the entire game, than to lose 48-7, showing absolutely no heart or effort.
Sunday: Numbness. Disinterest. Anger.
I had blocked the game from my mind and went to church. I avoided print media and talk radio. I made it until nearly 5:00 p.m. before I happened across one article recapping the game, and then in a matter of seconds, my numbness transformed into anger. Irrational, unreasonable anger. What was wrong with our coaches? What was wrong with our players? Why didn’t we show one iota of improvement? Why?
After all my ranting, I arrived at the conclusion that Kentucky Football is the very definition of insanity: we keep doing the same thing over and over, yet expect different results. By bedtime, the anger subsides somewhat, and disappointment and acceptance takes its place.
Monday: Disappointment. Confusion. Mild anger.
It should be noted that I am a veteran UK football fan. I have figured out a method over the years that allowed me to experience all my emotions about any one game in 36 hours or less. I’d try not to get too high with the great games, nor too low with the bad ones. Constant reminders to myself that, in the end, this is just a game were also helpful. A lifetime of never getting over the hump to be truly competitive in the SEC, as well as countless disappointing losses had made me immune to extreme emotion over any game. Or at least that’s what I thought.
It was my own fault for getting my hopes up this year. Why on earth would I believe that this time, things were going to be different? Why buy into the hype that Kentucky Football was finally on the rise? So many questions remain about our coaching staff, our inability to make adjustments during a game, and players that quit trying at the first sign of adversity.
It is time for me to face reality: Kentucky Football is what it is. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride. Short flashes of brilliance, followed by long periods of ineptness. It’s time to stop investing my time, money and emotions and get on with my life. Sure, Saturdays in the fall won’t be the same, but who needs this madness? Right?
Having decided my affair with Kentucky Football has finally come to an end, I feel strangely empty. How very odd. I was convinced letting this go would fill me with relief.
Thursday: Renewed hope.
It is clear I can not leave Kentucky Football. Perhaps I’m a bit of a masochist. Maybe I’m just gullible and still believe things can change. But most likely, it’s because I am a fan. An absolutely, bleed-blue-til-I-die-never-give-up-no-matter-what forever fan. I cheer for UK in every sport, and a program’s history of success has no bearing on my decision to support them.
Friday: Anticipation. Excitement.
Here I am, a week removed from what (I hope) was the rock bottom moment in Kentucky Football history. While I am not quite as optimistic as I was prior to the Florida game, I’ve managed to claw my way back to being at least cautiously hopeful that our team can still turn things around and have a successful season.
Feelings of anger, despair and frustration have now melted away, and I am happily immersed in my normal Game Day Eve activities. I know I may be disappointed many more times. I am aware there will be many more bumps in the road to becoming relevant in the SEC. But I also know these players chose the University of Kentucky for their football careers. As a fan, I want to give these players my full support, even if it’s painful for me to endure the losses.
I will be at Commonwealth Stadium tomorrow and I will be cheering just as loudly as I ever have. I will be at the Cat Walk to welcome the players to the Training Center. I will enjoy the company of my friends at our tailgate party. I am hopeful tomorrow night’s journey home will be much happier than the one I took 2 weeks ago. Most of all, I will be just as proud of my team tomorrow as I’ve ever been. I hope to see you there!
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