When I first moved to Louisville, just three days shy of a year ago, a new friend took me to a sports bar where everyone was talking about, you guessed it, sports. After listening to talk of the Cardinals for what seemed like an eternity, I very stupidly asked, “Do you have any real sports teams?” I did make it out that bar alive, clearly, but it was not easy. Eyes lit up, fists struck tables with furious... let's call it explanation.
As I have mentioned in other articles, I am from Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland is the home of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the famous burning Cuyahoga River, and three professional sports teams. And while the Browns, Indians, and Cavs don’t give Clevelanders much to celebrate, they are, nonetheless, a part of the NFL, MLB, and NBA, respectively.
I did not mean that silly question to be an insult. In fact, that thought hadn’t even occurred to me. When I said “real,” I meant are there professional teams, but I find the bar patrons’ reaction very interesting in how typical it was. If someone rolled into a Cleveland bar and started bashing the Browns in favor of the Steelers, the rioting alone would last for weeks, and I don’t think I need to remind anyone of how Cleveland took Lebron’s departure from the Cavs to the whogivesadamnwherehegoesheleftus (hey, I have a fleur de lis tattoo now, but I did spend 20 years in Cleveland first).
If anything makes the Cardinals 'real' teams, aside from their actual playing, of course, it is the fans that defend them and love them. The past year I have had the opportunity to learn Louisville as an outsider while, ironically, becoming a Louisvillian. Something I have not been able to ignore, even if I tried, is Louisville’s dedication to the University of Louisville  Cardinals.
The enthusiasm of the fans and the palpable relationship between them and the university has rubbed off on me. Perhaps it’s this clear love for the Cardinals, the excitement of a new football coach, the glisten of the new stadium, or the sexy scandals of Mr. Pitino, but something has my interest peaked. With classes now in session, I am genuinely looking forward to watching my Cards play.
(Picture courtesy of the University of Louisville)