Students at the University of Kentucky pitched tents, lots of tents, to show their support and school spirit for their basketball teams. Nearly 700 tents were pitched around the area of Memorial Coliseum during the first week of October.
Students camped out for the chance to buy tickets for the first men’s and women’s basketball practice of the season. That’s right. Not the first game. The first practice.
People in Kentucky take their basketball very seriously and the event known as Big Blue Madness draws such a crowd that the University asked students to camp out no earlier than 5 a.m. Wednesday morning for tickets that went on sale Saturday morning. 650 tents were already up by 9:30 Wednesday morning and there was no sign of a slowdown. Sure enough by Wednesday afternoon, the record-number of 690 tents had been set. The old record of 595 tents was set just last year.
This is a tradition. Hundreds of students and Kentucky fans spend three days every year in tents, braving the elements, in hopes of getting a chance to attend the first practice. It’s sort of a kick-off (or tip-off) to the new season. Campers who got prime real estate had the greater chance of getting up to four tickets for the event on Friday night, October 18th.
All the tents filled with hundreds of students in one general area make for the establishment of a tent community. This is why the area is known as Tent City. Some of the basketball players and coaches wander into Tent City to visit with students and maybe sign a few autographs.
Lots of schools hold similar events this time of year. The events are often called Midnight Madness. The NCAA stipulates that college teams can hold their first organized practice six weeks before the first regular season game.