[Moderated by Matt Jones]
When it comes to the University of Kentucky’s athletic teams, I think it’s probably safe to say that many fans are drawn first and foremost to the men’s basketball program. The men’s basketball team has had the most successful program historically, winning eight national championships, as well as holding the most total wins in the history of Division I men’s college basketball. The popularity across the state, and even in various pockets across the country, of men’s basketball at the University of Kentucky is impossible to deny. Kentucky’s games with __(insert the best 3 games on Kentucky’s schedule any year)__ continually draw in the most viewers for regular season college basketball games on major networks. The attendance for the home games and road games for Kentucky men’s basketball helps support the argument that the program is #1 in the hearts of most University of Kentucky fans. Kentucky fans not only support their team by watching them play, living and breathing every moment of the season as it moves along, but they also travel well to support the team.
Other than University of Kentucky fans who have played another sport at some point in their life, or have an intense interest or passion for another particular sport, it’s hard to argue that Kentucky men’s basketball is not the #1 most popular and beloved athletic program. A percentage of the really hardcore football fans might actually put the football program, despite its lack of success on the level of men’s basketball, as the #1 team. Regardless of the order, I think that a large portion of UK sports fans would put men’s basketball and football as the #1 and #2 sports, in whatever order they prefer. A lot of that has to do with the exposure given to each of these programs on a national level. I will dive more into that aspect next.
Personally, men’s basketball is the overwhelming #1 team in my heart. Football is probably the next in line, in large part due to its availability on television and in the media. Information about the team and the games is easily available and I feel like exposure is a big factor in the fact that they are #2. I have a hard time deciding which UK team comes in at #3 for me though. I care enough about UK sports to the point where I try to, at last to some degree, keep up with as many as possible as often as possible. I can at least tell you a little bit about all of the programs, some more so than others.
Women’s basketball, especially as of late, has made a push for the #3 spot for me. The success over the past couple of years, mixed with the exciting brand of basketball and an engaging and charismatic coach in Matthew Mitchell, have made for a good recipe to capture my attention and interest. Outside of men’s basketball and football, I know the most about the women’s basketball team. I could probably name every player and tell you a little bit about them. I watch as many of their games as I have access to watch.
This season, the UK baseball team has fully captured my attention. I’m not going to pretend that I am not a bandwagon fan. Before this season, I had little interest or knowledge about what was going on with the baseball program. I have just never been a huge fan of the sport in general. This team has changed that for me though. I’m proud to say that I actually not only keep up with, but very much enjoy everything about this season so far for UK baseball. I have slowly but surely learned more and more about the team.
Some have made the argument that men’s basketball recruiting is the 3rd most popular sport for many Kentucky fans. That might be true judging by how much information is available to fans now, and how much we obsess over the decisions and commitments as they unfold. Entire websites are dedicated specifically to men’s college basketball recruiting. In the offseason, the news is breaking on a consistent enough basis to keep many fans occupied for months.
Many of the other UK athletic teams are beginning to make a surge for the #3 spot in my heart though. Teams such as the women’s soccer team (they have my favorite UK coach in Jon Lipsitz), are growing in popularity with fans due in large part to their building of top level programs in their respective sports. Mitch Barnhart and the athletic department have made huge strides in the past 5-6 years in many sports across the board. Other sports besides men’s basketball and football are starting to grab the attention of Kentucky sports fans.
I love and support all Kentucky athletic programs. But…If I had to choose right now, my top 3 Kentucky athletic programs would be men’s basketball, football and women’s basketball. Baseball is a very, very close 4th. So, I ask of you readers, who is the #3 team in your heart? Or maybe you have a completely different top 3 than I have. I’m curious to hear what you have to say.
@AllyTuckerKSR Blogging is my 5th favorite sport.
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