Time stood still over much of Kentucky that last Saturday evening in March when the University of Louisville met the University of Kentucky for the third-to-last game of the men’s college basketball tournament.
Across the nation, the news was the novelty of two of the most historically successful programs from the same state playing each other in the semifinals.
Here in Kentucky it meant so much more.
Here was our own personal white-hot rivalry moved to the main event on center stage. Louisville’s The Courier-Journal declared simply, in second-coming type, “CIVIL WAR.”
But we were ready for that. We already had the “House divided” license plate holders, the red and blue UK/UofL banners were ready to hang outside of bi-loyal homes.
After all, this is the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, with monuments to each.
The drill may have been especially intense, but it was well-practiced.
Empty streets at gametime
There were partisan parties and mixed gatherings that took care to be even more polite than normal. There were those who preferred to sit alone without answering the phone. Some didn’t watch because they didn’t care, instead enjoying the empty streets and movie theaters. There were those who didn’t watch because they cared too much—saving the video until they knew the final score, then fast-forwarding through the painful parts.
In the end, both teams gave us all good reason to cheer ourselves hoarse. Right up through the bedtime-stretching Monday night conclusion capturing the national championship, the players distinguished themselves as athletes and as men.
Cards and Cats, congratulations, and thank you.