It Doesn’t Have To Be War

BY RACHEL SHULHAFER

Dec. 28, 2013 was dubbed by many as “Cardmageddon.”  The annual Louisville-Kentucky basketball game would tip off in Rupp Arena at 4 p.m., and then Teddy Bridgewater and the football team would face Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl at 6:45 p.m. That’s a lot for Cards fans’ brains, hearts, and livers to handle. After spending a less-than-stellar morning navigating through Indiana with my head in a barf bag, I really wasn’t in the mood for conflict of any kind, even though I had made plans to spend Cardmageddon with a Kentucky fan. This seems like a recipe for disaster and high blood pressure, but this particular UK fan and I know that heckling each other mercilessly simply because she wears blue and I wear red isn’t worth the potential brain aneurysms we would cause each other if we smack-talked for an entire game.

I’m as guilty as anyone who cheers for a team that partakes in a heated rivalry- I’ve gotten into huge arguments with UK fans that ended up getting personal. But isn’t the whole purpose of sports to enjoy it? After finally figuring out that I would never get the satisfaction of having a UK fan say, “You’re right, U of L is better, John Calipari is a scumbag, and all of our players are just making a pit stop before the NBA,” I decided that the blind rage this rivalry caused me was not healthy or fun. I settled on agreeing to disagree and peaceful co-existence.

The only things I knocked on my UK friend about last night were why Willie Cauley-Stein suddenly looked like a Sisqo/Dennis Rodman hybrid, and that the U of L players would easily defeat UK in a beauty contest. She only forced me to look at one U of L-bashing meme on Twitter, and while it made me cringe, it was actually a funny use of Russ Smith’s cry face.

As the seconds wound down, I knew the game was over. I briefly disappeared inside my own head to try to process this loss, and mentally prepare for the inevitable heckling from UK fans.

“At least you all made it to a bowl game.” The voice of my UK friend snapped me out of the downward spiral I was silently falling into. “Isn’t that about to start?”

She was right. Kickoff was in five minutes, and there was a bowl game championship on the line, not just a regular season game. The Cardinals ended up beating Miami 36-9 in a game where everything seemed to go U of L’s way. She cheered alongside me when Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdown passes, and ran one into the end zone himself.

“That would never happen in UK football,” she joked after each highlight play that Teddy and company delivered.

Both big teams in the Bluegrass got to taste victory Saturday, and even though U of L fans had to stomach an obnoxious loss, it was a big day for both U of L and UK sports. Let’s be happy for our own respective teams, and not rain on the others’ parade.

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