It’s no secret how much Kentucky loves its basketball team; they proudly claim “The Greatest Tradition” and even new students are able to reminisce on past championships. There is a palpable air of pride around campus once the season gets underway, and even more so come March. Though UK has remained around the top of the NCAA in both attendance and success, some students still have not bought into the hype and attended a game yet.
Although basketball may not be for everyone, I think that all students should take advantage of this historic tradition and unique opportunity to connect with their peers.
The statistics surrounding the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball team certainly speak for themselves, but one thing that will never show up in a scouting report or stat-line is the buzz of the crowd in Rupp Arena during a close game, the camaraderie you feel when you cheer alongside your fellow students, or the pleasant embarrassment of getting your face on the jumbotron. These things simply cannot be replicated on television or over a radio broadcast. They are wholly unique, and students at UK have an amazing opportunity to be some of the few that are able to experience them first hand.
Now, a skeptic may be thinking “Don’t all colleges have a basketball team? What makes ours so special?” and this is where those statistics really do matter. We have the sole rights to the title of winningest school in all of college basketball. We have 8 championships under our belt, 121 draft picks in the history of the NBA, and one of the best recruiting teams in the country. In short, we have been very good for a very long time. Each year brings new teams and new stories, new potential and new hope. The one constant amidst all of this is the Big Blue Nation. All of us that go out and support this team and stand behind it. That is what you are becoming a part of when you go to a game and stand in the student section, just a few feet away from the court.
It’s still early, but it seems as though this year is no exception to the tradition that we have built. We have put together another team of super talented young men and now that the first few games are over it seems like they are starting to click. Headlined by returning players such as Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, and Nick Richards, as well as highly touted recruits Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks Jr., these Wildcats have started the year with four wins and just one loss. It isn’t hard to imagine that we have another team bound for the tournament in March. What this means for us, the Big Blue Nation, is that we have a whole season of high-flying basketball to cheer on our boys before they head out to compete for another championship. We also have a chance to add to our list of NBA draft picks in the coming summer. The best part for us students, however, is that we can be a part of this for only $10 a ticket.
If you are a current student at UK and you have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity, I highly recommend that you set aside a night to go with your friends and try it out. The Big Blue Nation is an amazing family to be a part of and, even if basketball isn’t your favorite sport, there is something special about being in that arena when it’s rocking and the Cats are showing out.