In 1984, a movie ticket cost $2.50, the average income was $21,600 per year, a gallon of gas was $1.10, the AIDS virus was first identified, the first Apple Macintosh went on sale, the MTV Video Music Awards were launched, Ghostbusters was in the theater, Dynasty was on television, Wham! topped the music charts, I had a child in diapers, hair on my head and…
The University of Kentucky beat the University of Tennessee in football with a victory that wouldn’t be repeated for 27 years.
Now, if you have perused this website, you will note that I am a son of Kentucky. My roots reach back deep into those harsh mountains, and we are loyal to the color blue, whether it be the bluegrass of our beloved Commonwealth, or the blue jerseys of those modern Kentucky gladiators playing under the Wildcat flag. But let me tell you, there were some dark years.
Kentucky just couldn’t beat those Volunteers. Twenty seven years is a long time to suit up and show up. In 27 years, fortunes can me made and lost and made again. An infant grows up, attends college, marries and soon gives birth to infants of her own. Walls can be torn down, battles fought, and technology that seemed like science fiction at the time, becomes passé by today’s standards.
For most programs, such a dry spell would correlate to drastically reduced gate proceeds, but Kentucky fans are a different breed. Each year at the appointed time of the much-heralded rivalry, as predicted, the stands would still be awash in a sea of blue as fans made the pilgrimage to the stadium. Twenty seven times they arrived with hearts full of pride and hope. Twenty six times, they left disappointed, yet still with hearts full of pride and hope at the prospect of “maybe next year.” The Kentucky staffers never publicly called anyone out for not doing their job, only stating in post game sound bites they were simply outplayed.
There is a marketing analogy to be had here, and it’s about relationships, whether they be with your customers, your employees or the media. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be honest. If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t, but that you’ll work to find it. If you mess up, own up to, but vow and declare to do better and show that you are making progress. If you always UNDER promise, and OVER deliver you will go far.
That’s what makes a Kentucky fan true blue.