LEXINGTON – The University of Kentucky has seen a rise of attendance in 2021. Maybe it was due to the Wildcats reaching a “new level” starting the season with their first 6-0 start since Paul “Bear” Bryant was at the helm way back in 1950. Or Kentuckians just wanted to get out of the house, interact with others, with COVID-19 being on the decline - UK fans from far and wide have gathered at Kroger Field on Saturdays for both of these reasons.
I have been to two games this year as a fan. Missouri (Week 2) & LSU (Week 6), both were SEC night games with electric atmospheres that resulted in Kentucky wins.
This time, I visited Old Commonwealth as a member of the media. I arrived at gate 11 where media members can enter 3 hours before kickoff, before the general attendees. After my bag was checked I waited in line for media credentials, rode an elevator up to a relatively new renovated press box. As a person who has a passion for journalism, I quickly recognized faces, names, & even voices of people in the Kentucky media scene.
I sit down at my elevated seat, with Tennessee beat writers to my left and NFL scouts to my right. I enjoy my catered food provided by UK, roughly an hour before kickoff. Had the pleasure to talk with some people who were there for the same reason I was, they loved the cats and loved writing about them.
While in the press box which has media from both sides, Kentucky & Tennessee you’re supposed to be impartial. You can’t wear the gear of the team you support, you aren't supposed to cheer when someone makes a big play. A lot of the noise is the constant typing on the laptops from the dozens within the room. All providing coverage of a sport they enjoy greatly.
This press box wasn’t a happy one. At least the majority weren’t in glee. Lead by Hendon Hooker’s 316 yards and 4 touchdowns UT would defeat UK by a score of 45-42. Despite an impressive performance by Will Levis & Kentucky’s offense, it wasn't enough to stop the Volunteers.