No matter UK football’s record, Commonwealth fosters camaraderie



By Cody Porter

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The fallout of UK’s loss to Louisville left a proverbial “Berlin Wall” lying between Commonwealth Stadium’s entrance and its blue, red, green, purple and orange tailgating lots.

Unlike President Ronald Reagan’s style, don’t expect fans to comply with any demand by UK to tear it down.

For the fans, tailgating is becoming the only part of football season to enjoy, as they are seemingly picking up on last season’s distaste with the 5-7 performance that left head coach Joker Phillips on the hot seat.

Although basketball is a hot commodity, taking part in a tailgate brings a different type of excitement that sitting in Rupp can’t fulfill.

The great Homer once spoke on the topic, and no, not the ancient Greek epic poet. It is the wise Homer Jay Simpson who once said: “We’re not here for the game. The game is nothing. The game is crap. The game makes me sick. The real reason we Americans put up with sports is for this: Behold, the tailgate party, the pinnacle of human achievement. Since the dawn of parking lots, man has sought to fill his gut with food and alcohol in anticipation of watching others exercise.”

However, there are a few exceptions to that quote. Although it can occasionally make fans sick from anxiety, the game is definitely something.

Why else would fans endure the punishment that is showing up in the wee hours of the morning?

Unlike schools from other conferences around the nation, UK and its SEC brethren have the advantage of conducting business in a great climate that accommodates the Cats and Big Blue Nation for much of the season.

What makes Commonwealth special, you may ask?

A young, unknowing freshman to UK may enter, simply belittling the thought of attending a game because of the Cats’ recent run of unfortunate events, but there are things Commonwealth tailgating brings that dwarf the traditions of the Gators, Crimson Tide and Volunteers.

Those early-morning hours are accompanied by hundreds of fans lining rows of what were previously parking lots, making them a seemingly endless line of blue and white-adorned vehicles attached with grills, coolers and seats.

Even those who aren’t nutty over their program can’t resist the temptation of partaking in a cocktail of barbecue and bourbon.

When they’re not enjoying fine Kentucky cuisine, tailgaters can be seen and heard making a thud with the vast array of cornhole boards being played in advance of kickoff.

Hundreds of diehards line the corner of Jerry Claiborne Way and College Way outside Gate 1 of the stadium, screaming and yelling as if they’re in the stadium, to prep the players as they enter prior to the game.

Into the meat of the season now, October’s turnover into fall raises the anxiety with thoughts of bowl eligibility and the looming game with the Tennessee Volunteers at season’s end. A way to ease those thoughts for fans not keen on the idea of showing up many hours before the game is venturing to Keeneland for the now recurring fall doubleheader.

By day, UK students in their polos or blue dresses make their way to Keeneland in droves to see the horse racing of the Fall Meet.

By night, the dread of how much money he or she squandered away on a random pick can be erased by the camaraderie amongst fans as they liven up Commonwealth beneath the lights.