COLUMN: Rooting for the other team?

Joanna Williams

By the time you all read this, the WKU men’s basketball team will have already played the University of Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Of course I don’t know how the game turned out, but yes, I was one of those “delusional” Topper fans who thought our team could beat the mighty UK.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of how miraculous this season has been for the men’s team or how proud I’m sure every Topper fan is. If you want to read that, you can head over to the sports section or a message board.

No, I want to talk about how whenever it comes to UK athletics our school spirit dwindles faster than advertisers for Rush Limbaugh’s show.

I didn’t grow up in Kentucky, so I wasn’t aware of the unconditional devotion so many Kentuckians have to UK basketball when I came here for college. But I’ve gotten the idea: you guys love UK basketball  — a lot. That makes sense. I can admit they’re a powerhouse in college basketball.

Still, I don’t understand the WKU students who continue to root for UK while they go to school here. I’ve had people — especially during this time of the season — attempt to explain it to me, but their logic is so unsophisticated that I honestly can’t follow. You mean to tell me you grew up loving UK basketball, but you came to WKU…to continue to root for UK? If your devotion to UK is as strong as you portray it to be, then wouldn’t you have been more comfortable there? It’s just something I don’t understand.

Granted, no one is obligated to cheer on the school they go to, I understand that. Even I’ve cheered on Syracuse (my hometown) basketball these past few years, but if I loved them that much I would have looked into attending the school.

What it really comes down to is respect. I’m not sure if that word has gotten into the head of such passionate fans, but it’s an important term to remember. Respect for your university and respect for the Hilltopper fans here.

WKU athletic programs are in resurgence. You don’t have to look any further than the football team’s quick turnaround after Willie Taggert was hired or with the men’s team after Ray Harper was hired. Whether WKU won yesterday’s game or not, we have a lot to look forward to. But to make it truly special, the fans here have to believe in the program as well, and that doesn’t happen when we have half the school wearing blue on game day.

I don’t know what the outcome of Thursday’s game is yet. I hope that I’m able to witness the biggest upset in NCAA and WKU history. But if that doesn’t come, then I at least want to see WKU students finally supporting the school they decided to attend.