I mentioned in one of my e-mails last summer that Lexington is an overgrown college town, because of the presence of the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University, and sports seems to be the favorite topic of conversation. For those who missed that e-mail, here is what I said. Quote:
“Of course Lexington is famous for the horses, but most of the horse races take place in April and October, which I presume are the times when the weather is just right for them to run. For the rest of the year, the sport of choice is anything played by the University of Kentucky team, the Wildcats. When somebody uses the term UK around here, they don’t mean the United Kingdom! In fact, that’s why the area code around here is 859–on a telephone dialpad it spells out U-K-Y. There aren’t any major-league teams in Kentucky, but a lot of folks travel to Cinncinati to see the Reds play there. A minor-league baseball team, the Lexington Legends, is also popular. Last month the Legends were in the local news when a real legend, Roger Clemens (the pitcher for the Houston Astros), got to play ball with them for a few days. Normally I don’t follow baseball, but I knew Clemens had been a baseball player for a long time, when the news announced that his son was also on the Legends team.”
Unquote: Since then I have learned that the Cincinnati Bengals have their training camp on this side of the Ohio-Kentucky border. That probably works the same way for the locals as the “Grapefruit League” spring training baseball games do in Florida.
Oh sure, in Orlando we have the Magic, and sports is a topic of conversation there, too. But in Orlando we are also inclined to talk about the weather and bad traffic, because we’re all I-4 hostages at one time or another. I guess in that sense, sports talk leaves you feeling in a better mood afterwards.
I am mentioning this because in the local news, both of Monday’s headlines were sports-related: the tragic death of Barbaro, last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, eight months after he broke his leg, and the announcement that tickets for UK basketball games are going to be more expensive. What’s more, the Superbowl is coming up on Sunday, and my workplace seems to be splitting into two groups, those favoring the Chicago Bears and those favoring the Indianapolis Colts. It reminds me how in ancient Rome, political factions formed around fans of the blue and green teams at the chariot races.
We all know that Superbowl Sunday is the biggest American holiday that doesn’t appear on most calendars. But do you ever get the feeling that the Superbowl isn’t so much a sporting event as a religious one? Consider these parallels:
- It’s on a Sunday.
- There’s a choir.
- There’s a worship service.
- And boy, is there a collection!
Myself, I haven’t been inclined to follow sports since I worked at Ticketmaster, so I’ll probably be right here in front of my computer that night, or taking Leive out to see another furniture store. The rest of you, have fun, and tell me about those clever commercials they only run for that game!