The 2022 Big Blue Campout: A Big Blue disappointment


Carter Skaggs

UKPD officers and security form a neon yellow line in the middle of the road to monitor and prevent campers from rushing the lawn on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. At 5 a.m. the campers will be released and allowed to set up their campsites. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff

Samantha Money, Asst. Sports Editor

The Big Blue Madness campout is a tradition that has been around on the University of Kentucky’s campus for several years.

Every year, hundreds of Kentucky basketball fans rush to pitch their tents outside of Memorial Coliseum and experience a day of little sleep but loads of fun.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the annual campout to be put on hold for two years because of safety reasons, new students relied on stories from alumni and upperclassmen to explain what the BBM campout was all about.

“The best experience of college” and “a day that students do not want to miss out on” were some of the descriptions that circled around Lexington during the pandemic.

Back in 2019, the tent capacity reached its max and fans had to be turned away because there was simply no more room for any more tents to fit on the designated grounds. Parents, cousins, brothers and sisters would recall the excitement in the air when the mens and womens basketball teams came out to socialize with the fans.

When the university announced this past September that the tradition was making a comeback for the 2022-2023 basketball season, it was anticipated that new and old fans alike would jump at the opportunity to experience the campout for the first time in two years.

Despite that, the campout this year did not seem to have that same spark from before the pandemic.

The turnout did not reflect the fact that freshmen, sophomores and juniors have never attended the university during a year when the campout was held.
With all of the signs denoting where tents could be pitched around Memorial Coliseum, event staff also seemed to think that more people would turn out, but there ended up being more open spots than there were taken spots.

That number shrunk as the day went on and, by nightfall, more than half of the “campers” had packed up their stuff and went home after receiving a wristband.
That seemed to be the main motivation for many fans – pitch a tent, wait for the wristband that guarantees a spot in line for tickets the next morning and then go home.

Even though “quality over quantity” is how the saying goes, it seemed as though the more people left, the more the excitement and energy died down as well.

When a few players from the mens basketball team made an appearance to sign autographs and pass out pizzas, it seemed as though some fun was to follow, but many felt let down when that moment proved to be the most exciting thing to happen during the evening activities.

It’s not that the entire event was dull, though. The football watch party was entertaining, but it felt like an activity provided merely to fill the long hours.
After the show, some fans were out and about on the grounds, but the majority stayed in their tents and, by nightfall, sleep seemed to be the only option on the table of things to do.

With the social atmosphere being what is supposed to make the campout a memorable experience, it would have been nice to see some more buzz outside Memorial Coliseum.

While the experience hopefully still provided the majority of campers with lasting memories, the event overall did not live up to the hype built up over the last two years and, put simply, fell flat in a lot of ways.