It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Mon, Oct 02, 2017
Yes, that's right: basketball is almost here! NBA training camps are well under way and college programs across the country will mark the official start of the season with each school's version of their annual midnight madness event.
Now, when I tell you that the University of Kentucky has the best midnight madness event in the country, I mean it wholeheartedly. It's not just because we have 8 national championships, lead the country in attendance every year, have the most wins of any program in the history of college basketball, or have more NBA players than every other school - it's because basketball just matters more in the Bluegrass.
Beginning last Wednesday morning at 5:00am, fans made the mad dash across the University's Avenue of Champions to set up their tents for a 3-day campout leading up to the distribution of Big Blue Madness tickets at 10 p.m. on Friday night. Just to be clear - Big Blue Madness tickets are *FREE* tickets...to a practice. Because you aren't allowed to set up tents in the campout zone (known affectionately as Big BlueTent City), the craziest fans camped out on the opposite side of the street days before 5 a.m. on Wednesday when they could pack up their gear, sprint across the street, and set up their gear again in the official Tent City ticket distribution zone.
Tent City's official tent count this year has already been maxed out at 300 tents due to construction going on around the campout area, however, Tent City's all-time tent record was 740 tents in 2014. The campout is always fun, as various Kentucky athletics teams take turns passing out donuts and pizza to campers. Thursday night is always the campout's biggest night as a live basketball preview show is broadcast from the middle of Tent City and the basketball team joins the campers to pass out pizza, sign autographs and play cornhole with fans.
In a state with no professional sports teams, the whole state eats, sleeps and breathes its Kentucky Wildcats. The lines between two rival programs are drawn early, as you're born either a Louisville Cardinal or a Kentucky Wildcat and that designation serves as a religion for the rest of your life. Kentucky coaches are revered with statues and those who choose to play for the blue and white are heroes for life. You have to understand - for a state that's often only known as a punchline in a joke, Kentucky basketball is one thing that every Kentuckian can be proud of. Basketball just means more in Kentucky, and this time of year makes me extra nostalgic for the Bluegrass.