Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carolina Blues

I had the good fortune of getting a phone call from my buddy Mike Mankowski this past weekend with a ticket offer for last night's Kentucky/North Carolina basketball game at the Dean Dome. The reasons against attending were numerous.

The Tar Heels are the preseason consensus #1 team in the country. Kentucky is still in rebuilding mode and was an overwhelming underdog. The Cats had just suffered a humiliating season-opening home loss at the hands of Virginia Military Institute (!!). I would be sitting amongst 23,000 Tar Heel fans. The game was a Tuesday night game that would force Amy into childcare duty for all three kids at bedtime and put me at home well past midnight.

The reasons for it? Ashley Judd was going to be there -- in the Carolina student section wearing her UK gear no less. And I would get to see my beloved Cats live and in person -- no matter how down they are.

Naturally I threw reason out the window and trekked over to Chapel Hill, sat amongst the powder blue contingent, got some razzing from my friend, and watched the Cats fall behind early and never dig themselves out of the hole thanks to 28 turnovers.

Despite Kentucky's lackluster performance, the game was a fun experience. Hanging out on Franklin Street and catching up with Mike over pizza and Bells beer at Pepper's before the game is an all-too-rare occurrence for both of us dads these days.

And getting to see Carolina at its peak is a guilty pleasure for a basketball junkie. Tar Heel fans are riding the wave of success right now and it is fun to watch. Carolina's success is reminiscent of my time in school when Kentucky was at its peak in the mid nineties. UK fans were on top of the world, and Rupp was a raucous place to see a game.

There are some differences between the two most storied programs in college basketball. North Carolina's atmosphere is more "refined" than Kentucky's. The fans sport more sweater vests than flashy logo sweatsuits. And the Dean Dome has a banner for everything, including a national championship from a year (1924) when national championships weren't even awarded.

But despite the differences the passion is the same. It is what makes a fan like Ashley Judd sit in the middle of the opposition's student section with UK gear and makes a dad raised on Big Blue drop everything for the chance to see his team when they are in town.

College basketball -- gotta love it.


1 comment:

Melrutl said...

Amy, you can tuck those brownie points away and CASH in BIG soon! Somehow the blue blood missed my veins, I dunno.