As I’m sitting here at work, on game day, I’m finding it extremely hard to focus. I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m one of the fans who takes this rivalry too seriously.
I’m the daughter of Allen and Maribeth Sherrard, two crazy Louisville fans. My parents traveled with the team before I was born. I was actually attending Louisville games before I was born. I grew up going to all home games in football and basketball. My best childhood memories are the games I went to with my parents.
When my dad was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma Cancer, Louisville football and basketball was our outlet. Despite my dad being paralyzed, we still attended the games as a family. For a few hours, my dad wasn’t a cancer patient. He was just another fan.
I remember before my dad passed away, he was in Hospice. It was December 2001, I believe. Louisville was playing Tennessee in basketball. Despite being told he only had months to live, my dad was sitting up in his bed, hooping and hollering on the Hospice floor. The nurses told my mom they were happy to hear sounds of excitement on a floor that’s typically depressing.
My dad’s hospital room was decorated with Louisville stuff. He had this Cardinals Bird mascot that played the fight song. I’ll never forget, moments after he passed, the bird started playing the fight song. Leave it to my dad to try and lift our spirits.
I know I got a little personal there, but telling my story allows you to see why I am such a passionate (for lack of a better word) fan.
As Louisville fans, we all have our stories as to why we cheer for the CARDS. Each story is significant. It’s the foundation of our fandom. It’s the reason we continue to represent the red and black with no doubts.
I’m also a proud Louisvillian. There is literally no other city in which I’d want to live. Louisville is my home.
When I hear blue fans bash my city, it becomes personal. I’ve never understood why so many people in the state hate Louisville. The city literally supports the state… It’s a cultural melting pot. It’s so quirky. It’s weird. It’s beautiful.
I remember as a kid, I would hear people from Lexington refer to Louisvillians as, “a bunch of drunks by the river.” Yes, many people from Louisville love to drink. But, people… We are in Kentucky. Our main export is BOURBON. We’re just supporting our local economy.
The city of Louisville is disrespected by the rest of the state. A W in the Battle for the Bluegrass gives Louisville fans and Louisvillians a sense of immense pride. Louisville is validated as the best city and best university in the state. Not that the city itself needs validation considering Louisville funds the rest of the state… But, I digress.
I often wonder what people outside of the Commonwealth think of the rivalry… What they think of the passion the Commonwealth has for college hoops.
You don’t have to live within the limits of the Commonwealth to see the hatred between fan bases. Get on Twitter. Find a major sports commentator who tweeted something positive about UofL. I promise you, there is a blue-neck calling the commentator out.
The past year has probably been the worst. After the “scandal” broke last October, dealing with blue fans has been a nightmare. It has taken Louisville fans a while to let the hooker jokes go. At this point, the jokes are so old. They are comical. There’s no new content. No new jokes. Nothing is original.
People outside of the Commonwealth have to think we’re nuts. There’s no other explanation. And maybe we are.
When it comes to college hoops, and college rivalries in general, the Battle for the Bluegrass is on another level. You can try to make the argument that Duke and North Carolina or Alabama and Auburn have the best and most heated rivalry in the nation… But, you would be wrong. Nothing matches the intensity of the Battle for the Bluegrass.
The rivalry between the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky is the most heated rivalry in the country. Maybe it’s the bourbon that flows through the blood of every Kentuckian that makes the rivalry so intense.
The minutes leading up to the game, while you’re sitting in the area, it’s the most intense atmosphere. The tension is unreal. This rivalry isn’t fun. It’s not just another game. The coaches can play it off like it’s just another game, but it’s so much more than that. For Louisville fans, it’s about city pride.
The red versus blue rivalry extends beyond two collegiate institutions in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It’s a battle between Kentucky’s two largest cities; Louisville and Lexington. The two cities literally hate one another.
It’s an interesting dynamic. Despite only 78 miles separating the two cities, they could not be more different.
This year… This Battle for the Bluegrass feels different from most. At least to me it does. For me, it feels much like the 2012 game. This is a must win for Louisville.
Luckily, when it comes to rivalry games… Rankings, stats, star players, momentum… It all goes out the window.