By Ryan Lemond


We all know that there are very few fan bases across the country that love their team more than the Big Blue Nation loves their Kentucky Wildcats. It’s a very special marriage between the BBN and the Kentucky Wildcats.

I’ve often been asked, “What is it about Kentucky Wildcats that creates such a love from their fan base?” 

Several years ago, a television crew from France came to Rupp Arena as part of a documentary on loyal and rabid fan bases. Naturally, they came to Lexington to see firsthand what it is about the Cats that make us follow them almost like a religious cult.

Where else do hundreds of fans line up for days to camp out for 3-4 more days to get free tickets to a basketball practice?

As John Calipari loves to say, “You people are crazy!”

It’s what makes the Big Blue Nation special.

It’s what every other fan base in the country wishes they had: great fans.

Some people don’t like my explanation that one of the reasons we love our Cats so much is that we don’t have a lot to hang our hat on in Kentucky. Education, poverty and employment levels are all at the bottom nationwide. But the Kentucky Wildcats give us something to stick our chests out and be proud of, something that is our own. The Cats are the one thing that can bring us all together. It’s the one thing that can make us all feel proud to say, “We are from Kentucky!”

We bleed blue. We celebrate the wins. We console each other after the losses. We’re in it together. It’s what makes us special.

I don’t know this for a fact, but it’s safe to say that the work productivity across the state is much much higher on days after wins and much much lower on days after losses. We often “live and die” with our Cats. I like to think that on days after heartbreaking losses that nothing gets done, and we should really just close everything up and go home. 

Recently, our Kentucky Sports Radio crew took a cross-country tour, starting in Lexington and ending in Las Vegas, for the basketball game against North Carolina. No matter where we went, we had UK fans show up for our radio shows.

In Memphis, a couple who met at Berea College joined us and even acted as our tour guides by showing us around a little bit.

In Fayetteville, 2 more guys hung out with us.

In Oklahoma City, 5 guys showed up for the radio show who were Kentucky fans. 

We ate in a little bitty restaurant in Matador, Texas, only to find out that the only other restaurant in town just happened to be owned by some folks from Kentucky who were huge UK fans.

In Lubbock, Texas, 3 more fans came out.

In Roswell, New Mexico, we had 3 UK fans stop by, including a dentist from Madisonville and a couple that used to live in Paris that drove 90 miles to come to the show.

It’s amazing!  We get so tickled every time this happens. No matter where we go, no matter where we stop, no matter what time of the day, UK fans never disappoint. We always show up. It’s–again–what makes us special.

It’s hard to explain our love for our Cats. You just have to live here to understand. I grew up in southern Indiana. I thought IU basketball was big. It’s nothing like the UK fan base.

Green Bay Packer fans have it. Alabama football fans have it. I don’t think anyone else has it.

It’s a special relationship between the Cats and the fans. I’m just glad to be a part of it.