Making Their Ears Hurt

ATHENS - It got so loud that Mark Fox was hurting.

“That’s the first time my ears have hurt,” he told me when I asked him about the noise after Georgia’s 72-64 loss to No. 1 Kentucky in Stegeman on Tuesday night.

He’s right, and this should happen more often — not the loss… the passion.

This is what big-time basketball is like. It can and should happen here in Athens and not just when the top team in the country is in town. I’ve heard that sort of passion before. I know it. It is the passion of the fall.

(I’m going to skip the part about zone defenses and how Kentucky didn’t turn the ball over in the first half or that the Dawgs lost the game because they were beat up on the boards late… that’s for another day, another time.)

I’ve been going to sporting events and been on the floor of those events for more than a decade now. Tuesday night’s game had the high-pitched screams that I’ve only heard a few times in Stegeman, but I hear at least once a year… in Jacksonville.

Nothing brings out the passion of the Georgia fan base more than the hated Gators. But tonight in Stegeman, Kentucky may as well have been orange and blue rather than the Big Blue Nation. The passion that was in the air tonight — from the students to the team — needs to happen more often.

I do understand that the No. 1 team in the country only comes to town once every now and then. But Florida, Tennessee and other foes come to Athens every year (or they should), so why can’t this sort of atmosphere happen all of the time?

I’m asking. I don’t know that I have the answer, but I want that to happen for Georgia. This state is hemorrhaging with basketball talent. This program, in the past, has shown that it can have this sort of passion in basketball. Georgia hoops should be this important.

There is no real reason it shouldn’t be this important.

I’m not even sure who I am talking to here… I’m just sort of screaming out loud that this should happen.

Some fans were really angry Georgia lost. Good. That’s passion. You need that in order to get to where Georgia needs to be in the long term on the hardwood. Basketball might not be in the DNA of Georgia’s blue-blooded football football fans, but why can’t it be something that really, really matters?

Fans nearly came through a fence to attack Mike Bobo when the Dawgs lost at Colorado in 2010. Anger, also known as passion, leads to results. Perhaps that started tonight. If that’s not what happens I will admit that I will be very disappointed. It hasn’t happened yet - at least not consistently.

It is time for this… it is past time. I hope this isn’t the last time I see this sort of thing in Athens.


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