Respect tradition: Big Blue Madness unifies Kentucky

Fans+set+up+tents+during+the+Big+Blue+Madness+Campout+on+Wednesday%2C+September+28%2C+2016+in+Lexington%2C+Ky.+Photo+by+Hunter+Mitchell+%7C+Staff

Fans set up tents during the Big Blue Madness Campout on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Rosie Ecker

The Commonwealth is not perfect, with its unpredictable weather, high smoking rates and a governor who gets emotional over text message. The one thing that Kentucky can always be proud of, however, is basketball. 

When times are tough, money is tight or sickness has not been overcome, many look to the Kentucky Wildcat’s basketball team for both distraction and solitude. With no professional sports team in football, basketball or baseball, UK is there to give the state something in common to root for. 

Big Blue Madness is the first practice for the Wildcat’s that is open to the public. It first started in 1982 and was called “Midnight Madness.” Now a televised event with past appearances by Drake, Big Blue Madness overwhelms Cats fans. Some even camp-out outside the Memorial Coliseum ticket office the week before the tickets are available. 

Many consider these fans insane for taking off work or school to camp in tents for a practice and not even an SEC game. While I don’t know if I would, or even could do it, I proudly applaud these fans. 

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Some groups who camp out for the tickets have done it for years, others only do it one time to cross it off their bucket list. There was even a couple this past week that got married in the midst of “tent city,” the name given to the space that all of the fans living in tents outside of Memorial Coliseum occupy. UK basketball is that important to this couple that they got hitched in front of the stadium, surrounded by strangers. 

Any way it’s done, these fans show UK’s deeply rooted Wildcat pride for their beloved basketball team. 

Because some of “tent-city” is located outside the basketball team’s dorm, these players can see just how much they are loved. I am sure the freshmen on the team were warned, coming to Kentucky, that their fans will do just about anything to show their support. Big Blue Madness proves this point, and encourages the team to have a successful season.

It is important for us bystanders at UK to respect the tradition of Big Blue Madness, both the practice and the camping-out. Who knows what Kentucky Basketball means to them: for some it could be a necessity and for others it could just be a fun tradition. Either way, it illustrates why Kentucky basketball is so special. No matter where they are from, what their age is, the quality of their tent or their political affiliations, these fans bleed blue. 

I am proud to be a Kentucky Wildcat for countless reasons, and I’m happy we are so united by this, sometimes a bit crazy, tradition. 

Rosie Ecker is the managing editor of the Kentucky Kernel.

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