I’ve often been asked why I’m a Louisville fan. I mean, we live in a city where it’s perfectly acceptable to bleed wholeheartedly blue, right? And, the truth is – admittedly – that I spent my formative years as a UK fan. Yes, it’s true. My story is probably not much different than many of yours. I followed my dad’s lead. My idol was Kyle Macy all the way down to wiping my hands on my socks before shooting a free throw. I have team pictures of me wearing a #4 jersey.
If I remember correctly, I’m not sure I cared any about Louisville until my brother headed there to college in the fall of 1979. I started taking interest, and it was a great time to do so. The ‘80s solidified the basketball team as a national powerhouse and it set our football team on a "collision course" with a national championship. Thus, began the "fence riding" that continued for many years. The truth is, until I enrolled at UofL in 1988, I leaned to the blue side of the fence. I cheered equally for both teams. I wore gear from both programs. But, those annual meetings between the schools found me cheering for the Cats. I vividly remember jumping for joy at Cedric Jenkins tip in buzzer beater. It earned me the nickname "swoop" for a period of time. Then, Rex Chapman happened. I was always a shooter and coincidentally had a similar hairstyle (you know the one). My senior yearbook has multiple greetings to "Rex."
Then, something happened in the fall of 1988. I stepped on the UofL campus, had classes with athletes, and played ball with many from the current and past basketball teams in Crawford and Belknap Gyms (and later in the SAC). I had student season tickets to football and basketball. I became friends with guys like Greg Minor and a couple of team managers who took me along to some practices. Sure, I visited friends at UK and attended games in Commonwealth and Rupp. And, I cheered for the Cats. But, contrary to earlier years, the head-to-head games found me cheering fully for the Cards. I was officially leaning to the red side of the fence.
The past (almost) 20 years has found the "fence lean" increase annually. You know, I’m a Cards fan. I was almost on a plane to the Bahamas to watch scrimmages. I’m also a realist and know that UK success is positive for our state and, honestly, good for the rivalry. I’m also painfully aware of the mentality of much of the UK fanbase that drives the biggest wedge between the fanbases. Regardless, many of the reasons I’m such a Louisville fan are the reasons I don’t understand why some people aren’t. You see, I consider myself logical. Sure, there are many reasons for my fandom originating out of preference. But, there are probably an equal amount of reasons built on logic. With that said, the following are several of my many reasons for being a Cards fan:
-I’m a UofL alum. Why would you openly cheer against the school you put on your resume?
-I live in Louisville. Do you live in the U.S. and cheer against our Olympic team?
-Current and former players and coaches are part of my community. I love that I have friendships with and connections to many of these guys.
-I can easily get to games. A 20 -30 minute drive is far better than an hour or more, especially when I’m going to see a lot of friends and others I know.
-We have a well-rounded athletic program. The UofL fanbase cares about more than just basketball.
-The train is coming. Thanks for the reminder, Vance.
So, why am I a Cards fan? I'm sure each of you have your many reasons. But, for me, it's simple. We The Ville.