Stop me when you’ve heard this before.
Kentucky is unwilling to come to Bloomington.
Why? Because self-important types have egos.
Massively misguided egos, that reside in people who think that all of this is about them — when it decidedly isn’t.
After IU and Kentucky allowed longstanding cross-border men’s basketball and football series to go dormant, the same is apparently happening in baseball now too.
And the reason is silly.
IU baseball coach Jeff Mercer said on Monday evening that Kentucky is unwilling to play in Bloomington, and that stance has put yet another cross-border series on pause.
“Kentucky canceled the series last year,” Mercer said. “Kentucky and Indiana is no longer a series, they called and canceled it. So it’s the last time we’re playing unless we play in the postseason. They asked if we wanted to keep coming down here (Lexington). I’m not coming down here without a return trip, so it’s done.”
Through the regular season, IU and Kentucky had played 44 times in baseball in a series that dates back to 1903.
It’s a similar story in football, where the programs have met 36 times in a series that goes back to 1893 — but haven’t played since 2005. Kentucky canceled that series too, due to fiscal concerns.
And of course you know the men’s basketball series has been dormant since 2011-12, save for a couple postseason meetings. Kentucky’s unwillingness to come to Bloomington played a central role in stalling that rivalry too, although it might get resuscitated in 2025.
This is all nothing new.
There have been plenty of pauses in the various series since Indiana and Kentucky began competing in basketball, football and baseball.
But this shouldn’t be hard.
And during the NIL and transfer portal era, when some fans have become disillusioned with college sports, athletic departments need to aggressively protect rivalries that generate energy in the fan bases.
6,796 baseball fans came to see IU vs. UK at Kentucky Proud Park on Monday — the largest crowd in UK Baseball history. The previous record was set two days earlier when the same teams met.
These are fun games that fans want to see. And the last time I checked, college sports is supposed to be fun.
It’s pretty simple: Put the egos aside, and give the people want they want.
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