My open letter to the nation from March-Mad Kentucky
An open letter to the nation:
My fellow Americans,
This week you are going to see some things in Kentucky. You may encounter some reality-show-type behavior that raises questions about this commonwealth’s fitness for continued inclusion in the union.
I would like to explain some things about this place, where I was born and have lived most of my life. It’s a wonderful state that has, for example, given the nation the gifts of bourbon whiskey and fast horses. In retrospect, perhaps we might have chosen a combination more conducive to rational behavior, but here we are.
We also have given the nation our share of thinkers and original characters (not to mention Original Recipe). Henry Clay. Colonel Sanders. Muhammad Ali. Abraham Lincoln.
But I’m afraid, with our two flagship basketball teams, the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, playing in the Final Four on Saturday in New Orleans, this commonwealth might also contribute to the nation a new birth of crazy.
The Internet buzzed Tuesday with word that a UK fan had used an online classified service to offer his wife in exchange for a Final Four ticket. I’d like to say two things. First, this man apparently lives in Charlotte, N.C., and anyone from Kentucky will tell you, living in North Carolina can warp a person’s basketball perspective.
And second, after polling many fans of both UK and U of L in this state, I can assure you that this fan is an exception. None that I talked with would offer his wife in exchange for a ticket, at least not one in the upper arena.
Lexington television station WKYT reported Tuesday that two men, ages 69 and 72, were arrested at a Georgetown, Ky., dialysis clinic after some trash talk escalated and a fight broke out, even with one of the men still hooked up to his dialysis machine.
Here in Louisville, a local high school altered the starting time of its Hall of Fame banquet because several inductees were going to miss it if the program interfered with Saturday’s national semifinal.
I am here to testify that there were two small general stores in the town where I grew up and that there were some who would not go into one or the other store after a loss by their team for fear of running into fans of the opposing persuasion who were known to frequent it.
These incidents are instructive. They reveal that in this state neither family, fame, food nor health will trump this basketball game.
There will be people, my fellow Americans, who will not go to work next Monday if the wrong team wins. I have heard them talk already of having “tourney aches.” And as for this week, it would be a bad one to ask anything of anyone you know in Kentucky, a bad week to have your taxes done here or to have car work done.
I haven’t been worth a nickel at work, and my job is to write about this stuff.
But I will tell you this about Kentucky. We who live here can handle the hangover. We wake up the morning after the Kentucky Derby every year, face the sunrise, courageously consider the losing tickets in our pockets, then go back to bed and try again on Monday.
Eventually, we bounce back. We did after the original Dream Game in 1983, when UK and U of L met for the first time in 24 years. We will again after this game.
We would only ask that you not hold the coming spectacle too much against us, nor make a lot of noise the morning after.