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In Kentucky, inner voices say: Wildcats won! Let's set fires!

April 03, 2012|By Richard Fausset
  • Kentucky fans dance around a fire on State Street in Lexington, Ky., as they celebrate the Wildcats' victory in Monday's NCAA championship game.
Kentucky fans dance around a fire on State Street in Lexington, Ky., as they… (Amy Wallot / [Louisville]…)

Atlanta — Imagine this: A group of utter strangers selected to represent your public, 27,000-student land-grant university has bested another group of utter strangers in a contest to see which group could insert a leather and rubber sphere into a metal hoop with greater frequency in a set period of time.

You were a passive observer of the contest. But now, the strangers' victory has triggered an agitating exuberance. You feel moved to take action.

But what action, beyond whooping and yee-hawing and high-fiving, would provide a sense of relief commensurate with the strangers' accomplishment? After all, this wasn't just any contest, but a contest to determine which group of strangers should be considered the nation's most successful when it comes to leather-and-rubber sphere insertion.

For a moment, you are flummoxed. But then you are relieved when you hear the unmistakable chirruping of an internal voice -- the voice you have relied on for so many of the important and unimportant decisions in your life.

The voice is suggesting that you set stuff on fire.

And you think to yourself, like a guy in an old V8 vegetable juice commercial: Duh. Of course! Problem solved.

This time-honored and profoundly stupid American ritual has played out many times, in cities large and small. Monday night, it was part of the raucous victory celebration in Lexington, Ky., where fans spilled into the streets as their beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats thumped the University of Kansas, 67-59, to win the championship game of the NCAA basketball tournament.

The Louisville Courier-Journal, in a news roundup Tuesday morning, reports that 56 small fires were set near the UK campus during and after the game Monday, one of the many ways fans exhibited their spirit. People got into fights. Objects were thrown, and people were hit by them. Somebody got shot.

Good times.

The shooting remains under investigation. The cops had to use a little pepper spray. Local channel WKYT-TV reports that investigators are using a website called idthisperson.com to identify suspects in video images of the violent displays.

The Lexington Herald-Leader added that hundreds of fans were also lined up Tuesday morning for tickets to a more formal celebration of the Wildcats' eighth national basketball championship.

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