Louisville-Kentucky Rivalry At Boiling Point

by Paul Sykes

Has the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry spiraled out of control, reaching a dangerous point where aggression, mayhem and violence have replaced competition, pride and support?

Saturday was ugly. Early on, emotions were out of control, with potentially disastrous effects for anyone in the immediate vicinity, either in person at Rupp or at a publicly televised event.

Having attended over 30 different Louisville vs. Kentucky events over the years, I’ve never seen so much hatred and contempt. Even Rick Pitino seems to be questioning the wisdom of continuing the basketball series.

Time to turn it down a notch, and that includes me. I had feelings of hatred, contempt and anger toward the home crowd. I reflect on this and have to ask myself…how did it get so out of control?

This is just athletics. These are students. We are neighbors and fellow citizens. There are more important and critical events unfolding in our lives, our society and our world. Call it a belated New Year’s resolution, but I pledge to be much more tolerant of the beliefs, support and loyalties of UK fans. Objectivity, rational thought and less criticism will be my guidelines.

One would hope that the fan bases of both schools, as well as the athletes, will do the same. There are many accomplishments for which both universities can be proud. It’s time to stop letting sporting events shape our attitudes.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

5 thoughts on “Louisville-Kentucky Rivalry At Boiling Point

  • January 4, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Well here goes nothing. Yes, the hatred needs to stop – but the rivalry is good for business.
    I am not encouraging violence to make money – don’t get me wrong…. However, Pitino was giving his team a taste of things to come …. a high profile field trip for his guys if you will. It is very sad to see it become dirty the way it did. The teams and departments need to look at ways to defuse rival intensity but up the support of both sides- Can this be done? WE might be needing a focus group to figure that one out. Any thoughts folks???

  • January 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I agree the rivalry has seemingly taken on a whole different level recently. I am a UK fan and have been thoroughly enjoying this season thus far (something that was missing the last 2 or 3 years). Every game I’ve been looking forward to and actually having fun watching – even the tight ones. I had no such joyful anticipation prior to the UofL game. Admittedly, I very much wanted to win, but it was like I wanted more NOT to lose. It was not fun, it was stressful. I did not enjoy it. While I would expect rivalry games to encompass a little more physicality and “gamesmanship” than a normal game, there was more than that Saturday.

    Sadly, I fear that reining it in requires far more reasonable fans from both sides to become the majority and I’m afraid I don’t have much faith that has any chance of happening.

    Best of luck to the Cards the rest of the season, the Big East has shown it’s going to be a topsy-turvy league and it seems 6 or 7 teams have a legitimate shot at it!

  • January 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    We have our own West Virginia situation right here in the commonwealth, with people cautious about going to Lexington because of the harassment that goes on. It is not a desirable or healthy scenario for anyone. Nothing can or will be done about it and the situation will only get worse. To ask people to suddenly change their feeling or personalities or to just be more understanding of other people is not realistic. Human beings are not wired that way.

    • January 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm

      So, we have a game of chicken to be played out, it seems. Who will blink first? Could take a resolution from the General Assembly to cancel the annual event, but which of those sterling representatives of our Commonwealth would have the guts to step forward to introduce that resolution? It is not up to the coaches. Maybe the athletic directors? But would they want to give up the very lucrative TV revenue??? ‘Tis a real quandary.

  • January 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I make several trips a year to Lexington for business and a trip to Keeneland at least once each meet to enjoy the racing and I’ve not encountered any trouble during any of these trips. My car is clearly marked with Uofl gear and all my clients know I am a Cardinal fan.

    This year’s game in Rupp, though…was out of control. I blame this on the unchecked emotions of a couple of players and failure by the coaches to contain their athletes and not telling them to stay cool.

    It can be corrected with strict warnings of suspensions, scholarship pulling and dismissal from school by each side. It is the responsibility of the coaches to do this. People are coming to watch basketball, not rasslin’ matches.

    Both teams played poorly. It was an ugly basketball game. If anyone had told me that Louisville could go 1-19 from the field to begin the game and take the lead inthe second half, I would have told them to put down the bottle and have some coffee.

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