October 06, 2012
There's a football game out there somewhere, but nobody here cares much about it.
There's tailgating here, yes. There are beers in hand, yes. But Saturday afternoon, 6.3 miles from Commonwealth Stadium, the people at Keeneland on opening weekend don't care about the Wildcats' concurrent game against Mississippi State.
"I've seen Kentucky lose already this year," one spectator said. "I haven't watched horses yet."
He was (predictably) right. UK lost 27-14. At 12:21 p.m., as Kentucky lined up to kick off, it was still an hour from post time. The race track video board showed the feed of the game (left). It didn't seem like many people paid attention.
While there was a smattering of UK blue scattered throughout the grandstand, there were dozens of other schools represented on clothing: Texas, Ohio State, Akron, Georgia, even Tennessee. People here don't cheer for a team; they cheer for their money.
I went to Keeneland to get a sense of where UK fans might be other than Commonwealth Stadium -- because they sure aren't there. Out of UK's four home games this year, three (Kent State, South Carolina, Mississippi State) have become the three lowest-attended games since 1996 (all were under 50,000). The attendance woes of this UK season are already on pace for historic lows, and considering the upcoming slate, it won't likely get any better.
Some at Keeneland chose the race track over the football field. The first group I walked past on my way in was asking each other about the whereabouts of some mutual friends.
"They decided to go to the game," someone said.
Replied another: "Losers."