Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What it means to be a FAN

 Ok I have lived in Columbus, Ohio for over ten years.  I have known Brad, my husband, for 22 years.  I have known his father, Ken,  for about as long. I have known that Buckeye fans are obnoxious since my first OSU football game.  I did not, however, realize until last Friday night how truly fanatical they were until the University of Kentucky (my alma mater) played the OSU in the Final 8.

When it comes to OSU Fanatacism, I am personally involved.  My husband is the biggest OSU fan in the world, next to his father, who actually watches games sober - not often I might add, but it has happened.  In my book, THAT is the measure of a true fan. Brad goes to almost every home game and some away games.  I have gone to bars at ten in the morning when we lived in other time zones in order to watch Buckeye games.  It has always been about the Bloody Mary to me, not the game. 

The writing was on the wall when I was in college and Brad brought me home to an OSU football game.  They were playing USC and we were walking into the stadium with Brad's dad, Ken,  and Brad started yelling at an elderly gentleman who was showing team spirit by wearing his team colors.  I don't remember exactly what was said, but it had something to do with the fact that the man had a USC team hat on and in Brad's opinion, he was going to "eat that hat at the end of the game."  I was horrified.  I looked to Ken for some balance.  He then raised his finger up in the air and I thought he was going to give Brad "the what for" but instead he finished Brad's rant by screaming, "and when you shit it out, it will be scarlet and gray."  I yanked them both inside the stadium because the old man looked rather fit compared to them. I will not lie.  A bell went off in my head that I chose to ignore because I did not yet have a ring on my finger.  I was cool about EV-ER-Y-THING back then.

Anyway, I am in Indiana with my best friend last Friday night and I start getting this barrage of texts and Facebook wall posts in response to this little ditty that I copied off of another Kentuckian who asked me to "pass it on."  It was exactly this -

"Kentucky born and proud!  Where the tea is sweet and the accents are sweeter, summer starts in April, front porches are wide and words are long, macaroni and cheese is a vegetable, pecan pie is a staple, y'all is a proper pronoun, chicken is fried and biscuits come with gravy, everything is darling and someone is always getting their heart blessed."

I got more shit from that post.  To be honest, I was really just reminiscing about being from Kentucky because I had just stayed at my parents' house in Louisville and it was beginning to be Spring and it made me nostalgic when I read it, so I passed it on.  End of story.  In no way was it affiliated with sports or the NCAA.

Brad recognized this immediately and commented on how I probably had no way of knowing there was a big game the next day.  People who I had not talked to in ages or who I did not even know very well started texting me and exclaiming "UK sucks and is going down tonight." and other disparaging remarks that I do not care to repeat - not that they were super articulate put downs or anything - I just don't care.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I actually became immediately interested in the last five minutes of the game and when UK kicked serious ass, I could not stop emailing and posting insults that would make Dickey V, Himself, (yes, Brad, I know who Dicky V is) blush.  

At that moment, I became a FAN again.  Now, I have sat in my living room with my Dad in horror as we recognized my mother's voice on the Rick Pitino call in radio show. I was at Kentucky (University of) when Rick Pitino came a courtin'.  It was a sight to behold.  I have actually witnessed people who would stop their cars (okay, Brad and his friends) on Alumni Drive outside of Rupp Arena, as Pitino was exiting the building, to shake his hand and get his autograph.  It was a magical time.  It was Ritchie Farmer and the Unforgetables!  (Brad put that last line in, natch, he got home early from the hockey game and wanted to "edit" my blog.  WEEEEEEE!)

I worked at the UK Alumni Association to pay for graduate school when Kentucky won the National Championship. I have witnessed, first hand, what people will do (my mother included) to get UK Basketball tickets, and it ain't pretty, folks.  I have stared in amazement on the streets of UK's campus as students hung from the traffic lights and descended upon cop cars like a pack of red ants covering a dropped popsicle, while I downed tallboys and squealed with delight.

I knew then what it was to be a fan, but since I have been distracted with children and laundry and homework, and I had forgotten what it was like to truly be invested in the outcome of something sports-related until last Friday night.  I thank you, the good people of Buckeye Nation.

I was on the road with my girls during the first half of the UK/UNC game on Sunday.  I actually found it on the AM station Brad regularly listens to and tuned into the game.  At one point I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed that all three of my children had that shell shocked look they get when the planets are not aligned in their universe.  They were stone cold silent and were apparently scared that I had somehow morphed into their father who incessantly listens to games or commentaries of sports, whenever he is in his vehicle.

When I got home, after a six hour drive with my 9-year-old, my 7-year-old, and my 4-year-old (I don't have to tell you what kind of Hell that is like), I watched the second half sans any alcohol.  THAT is what it means to be a fan.  I cheered and did the UK fight song cheer (we had the same cheer in high school and just inserted "Eastern High" where the "U of K" should be) with all of the motions I could remember.  When it came to the high kick, I wrapped my knuckles on the drywall that houses our heating ducts and pulled a muscle and had to sit down again.  THAT is what it means to be a fan.

I am currently contemplating having a party this Saturday night for the Final Four game against UConn.  It is a virtual miracle that I not only know who we are playing, but that I am willing to clean my house in anticipation of a party revolving around sports.  (It usually is the only time I become aware that Brad knows how to use a vacuum cleaner.)

I cannot decide if I want to invite everybody or if I should just invite UK fans that I know in Columbus.  What would Jesus do?  Or rather, what would Jim Tressel do, right?

My recommendation today is to take one for the proverbial team this time, Buckeye fans, in the name of good sportsmanship this Saturday, and root for the Kentucky Wildcats.  Not because they are in closest proximity to your state or because you put three children through college paying out of state tuition (Ken).  Root for them because they are the dominant team and because you know me, as I have not been this invested in a contest since Christian Siriano won Project Runway.

Brad wanted me to put a video of the Cats homecoming at the Lexington Airport.  It was set to Rap music he enjoys and ran about five minutes. I decided to spare you after he went to bed.  


  1. I wish you'd been at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill when we beat OSU. Lauren and I were the ONLY people in blue, and those Buckeye fans were not happy about it. I loved it!