1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Kentucky Basketball and
My West Virginia Cap

Paul Bland - January 20, 2012

As you may know, I currently reside in Kentucky and you may also know that basketball is the major religion of Kentucky. Basketball fans here “eat and breathe” the fortunes of their Wildcat Team and they expect the team to be in the hunt for a national championship every year. This applies to young and old alike. When the weather is cool it is not unusual to see toddlers as well as senior citizens wearing hoodies with WILDCAT printed in large blue letters across the front of the jacket. Not only that but I firmly believe that it is impossible to navigate the roads of Kentucky safely without a sticker on your rear bumper that says, GO BIG BLUE. It is rumored that both state police and local police when investigating “fender benders” look for this sticker on cars and trucks before they are willing to give those involved in an accident a favorable report.

With these observations in mind, I wish to report on a couple of events that happened to me in Kentucky a couple of years ago. I have now recovered sufficiently, both physically and psychologically, to give a true and accurate account of these events. Before beginning, I want to assure you that on my best Scout’s honor what I am about to relate to you is true and that details of these events have not been changed nor have they been embellished.

Both of these events are connected to a West Virginia/Kentucky basketball game that was played a few years ago.

Event No 1
A couple of days before the West Virginia/Kentucky game was to be played I went into a Tobacco Barn in Danville, Ky. Now I am not a big basketball fan and I didn’t give the pending game much thought. As I entered the store I noticed a quite large, full breasted and manly appearing woman sitting in a chair toward the rear of the store. She was wearing a man’s white tee shirt, jeans, combat boots and she had what appeared to be a long “roll your own” cigarette dangling from her lower lip. I wasn’t in the store thirty seconds before she spoke, without, I might add, removing the cigarette from her lip.

Big Momma: What are y’all ah wearin that cap fer?

Well, I didn’t know what she was talking about, but I did remove my cap. I didn’t find anything unusual; it was just the standard West Virginia cap with a big yellow WV printed on the front. I thought maybe that she was referring to the fact that I was wearing a West Virginia cap while in Kentucky, so I told her that I was from West Virginia and proud of it.

Big Momma: Don’t ye know that West Virgin-nee and Kentuck are to play bask-keet-ball in a few days?

I told her, yes, that I was aware of it, but only in the back of my mind since I wasn’t really a big basketball fan. But I did tell her, more out of loyalty to West Virginia than to knowledge of the game of basketball itself, that I thought West Virginia would give Kentucky a “pretty good game.” At this point, I noticed that she gave me a “killer stare” and that she started to rise from her chair. Well, I am astute enough to be able to pick up on signals of this type, so I quickly told her that my wife is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and that she would be pulling and hollering for the Wildcats to win. That seemed to satisfy her somewhat and she settled back into her chair. After acquiring the items I came to purchase, I backed out, yes, backed out of the Tobacco Barn, never turning my back on Big Momma. I guess I could be compared to a cowboy in one of those old western movies where he, after a confrontation with a gun fighter, backs out the saloon door with his hand on his pistol but never turning his back on his nemesis. Only John Wayne would be willing to display his courage and manliness by turning his back on the other fellow to walk out the door.

I felt great relief after leaving the store. Who knows but Big Momma may have had a pistol tucked in the rear of her jeans and I could have been another statistic laid on the mantel of Kentucky Basketball. At this point, I was just happy to have escaped with my life and to be alive.

Event No 2
Well, West Virginia won the game, but I didn’t give it much thought. I guess my inattentiveness is probably what caused me to be severely beaten to within an inch of my life.

A few days after the game, I went to Wal-Mart to purchase a few items. When I was in the checkout line, I noticed a sweet and kindly appearing little old lady who I judged to be around eighty years of age. She was directly behind me in the check-out line and she was wearing a gray hoodie with WILDCATS printed in large blue letters across the front. I turned, smiled and spoke to her. I guess that she must have seen the West Virginia cap I was wearing for then, after I had turned back to face the check-out cashier, she began to beat me about the head and shoulders with her umbrella, doing considerable damage and all the while shouting ”West Virginia dog”, “West Virginia dog.” She actually beat me to my knees and then pushed me over. She then began to stomp and kick me about my body, causing further injury to my person.

Well, the store manager called the police and I thought that surely they would arrest this sweet little old lady. But alas, the two policemen who responded to the call took one look at my West Virginia cap and arrested me. Can you believe it, they arrested me! After a brief conversation with the sweet little old lady and the store manager, they handcuffed me and marched me to my truck, without, mind you, ever inquiring as to the extent of my injuries. One police officer drove my truck and another followed in their cruiser as they drove to the West Virginia State line. There they gave me my truck keys and told me never to return to Kentucky. They both said, somehow in unison, “You’re simply not welcome, so don’t come back, you West Virginia dog.” One of the officers gave me a bit of advice, “Should you ever pass through Kentucky again leave that damned West Virginia cap at home. You should know that basketball is the religion in Kentucky and that Kentucky fans cannot be held responsible for their actions when the CATS lose a game.”

Well, there you have it. These two events tell all that needs to be said about the love of basketball in Kentucky.

After spending some time in Alderson, I was able to recover from my physical wounds, but I still have nightmares from the beating I took from that sweet little eighty-year-old lady. I can also report that I have returned to my home in Kentucky, but I carefully slipped back under the cover of darkness. Moreover, I continue to proudly wear my West Virginia cap regardless of the consequences. It seems that the Wildcat’s loss to the Mountaineers has been forgotten and I have not, as of yet, been “called out” for wearing the cap. But should West Virginia schedule and beat Kentucky in basketball again, I believe I will choose another cap to wear for a few days. It should always be remembered by those who reside in Kentucky that, from the Kentucky point of view, one must completely embrace Kentucky basketball before one can have even the slightest chance of passing through the pearly gates.

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