Off The Record: This UK fan will be on a couch Sunday for the Big Game

August 27, 2003|HERB BROCK

With the Big Game only a few days away I, as a large University of Kentucky fan, should be humming "On, On, U of K" as I anticipate the annual battle with the University of Louisville. I should be pumped and primed for Sunday evening's contest.

But instead, I'm full of angst and anger. And I'm humming words to a tune I constantly hear on FM 94.5 during my daily afternoon constitutional around Danville: "I'm not crazy. I'm just a little unwell."

I bought two tickets for the Big Game for my son and myself. But at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, it will be a friend of my son who will be occupying my seat. I will be on a couch. Not at home, surrounded by posters of Derek Abney and other famous Wildcats. In an office, surrounded by photos of Sigmund Freud and other famous shrinks. I won't be a couch potato munching Doritos. I'll be a patient interpeting red and black ink blots.


Folks, when it comes to my feelings about U of L, I'm way more than a "little unwell." I'm totally unglued, not to mention irrational, unreasonable and at least temporarily insane.

Some of my best friends have gone to U of L. At least they had the decency to wait until graduate and law schools to do it, but they did the unpardonable and went just the same.

I've met a few local kids in covering Danville and Boyle County schools who have gone to undergrad school at U of L. The fact that they were bright, outgoing and all-around decent youngsters barely offset their unimaginable treachery to be residents of the heart of Big Blue Country and willingly end up behind the Cardinal Curtain on Red Square.

I recognize that U of L provides balance to our higher education system with its unique mission as an urban school. Too bad that mission includes gobbling up higher education dollars that should all be going to UK, stealing great football and basketball players who should, if they had any sense, be matriculating at UK, and, in an in-your-face move, grabbing a former UK coach who will remain nameless and putting him in a red Armani.

Yes, U of L and the people who have gone there and worked there aren't so bad - for 363 days a year. But on those two days when the Cardinals play the Wildcats in football and basketball, the Cards grow horns and I develop a mental illness.

There are many examples of this condition, symptoms of which include veins popping up on my neck and forehead, eyes that spin in their sockets, smoke and fire that spew from my nostrils and ears, and language that would keep a a radio or TV censor with his index finger firmly pressing the bleep button for the entire length of the game.

Manifestations of this Tourette's-like condition have occurred - no, erupted is a better word - numerous times. The number of eruptions closely coincides with the number of times UK and U of L have played football and basketball. The most memorable occurred a decade or so ago at Rupp Arena.

It was the first time I had taken my son to a UK-U of L game. We had been to other basketball games and had great father-and-son times together. My son saw me cheering, applauding, joking and laughing. Of course, I'd get a little down those few times the Cats lost, but I'd shake it off quickly because I didn't want to spoil the fun and magic that a little boy has when he goes to watch his heroes play what really is just a game.

But on that December night 10 or so years ago, I took my son not to just a game but to a holy war. Most UK fans called on the Cats to beat the Cards. I declared a holy war. Most UK fans call our rival U of L. I refer to the so-called university as the U from Hell.

But when the game started, it was I who behaved like an agent of the devil. My son saw nothing of the fun-loving fan that I had been. He saw the dark side. He saw me afflicted with court rage. He saw and heard me violate all the rules of proper fan behavior I had tried to inculcate in him. "Applaud your team but don't boo or heckle the opponent," "Never raz referees," "Never curse or do anything else that is annoying to fans around you" and every other rule were broken - before tipoff.

My beastly behavior got so bad that at one point my son grabbed one of my knees while I was jumping up (again) to scream at the refs, yell at the U from Hell players and spew venomous epithets at Cardinal coach Denny "Hey, you Crumm-y, Crumm-bumb, leisure-suit-wearing SOB, sit down!" Crumm.

"Dad," my son said, trying to whisper but having to yell to get my attention. "Remember Rev. Jennings sits right next to us. He can hear all that language."

"I don't give a bleep if we're sitting next to the bleeping pope, I'm gonna scream my bleeping head off if I want to," I responded.

Then it hit me. I had lost my head and my beloved son, Rev. Jennings and God had all witnessed it, not to mention an usher who had been keeping an eyee on me the whole game. I sat down, meekly apologized to my son and Rev. Jennings and kept my seat - and my head - the rest of the game.

But since then, there have been some repeat performances at UK-U from Hell - that is, U of L - basketball and football games. They haven't been as horrible or frightening as the original performance but they have convinced me that the best place for me when the Big Game is being played is not a stadium or arena in the presence of my son but on a couch under the care of a professional.

And while my comrades in blue and white this week will be whistling "On, On U of K," I will be warbling "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Uh Huh."

But after I have been taken to my couch, I hope that the professional who cares for me will at least let me know how the game is going. If we learn the Cats have lost, I hope he doesn't encourage me to "go with that feeling." I'll let the bleeping shrink know a few bleeping feelings if UK loses to the bleeping U from Hell, alright.

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