DANVILLE, KYThe students in David Hall's CentreTerm class took a unique approach to a road trip to watch the University of Kentucky Wildcats take on the rival University of Georgia Bulldogs. For the students in "Basketball as Religion," the trip to Athens, Ga. was to be viewed in terms of a religious pilgrimage.
Says Hall: "As you will read, the journey resembled a religious pilgrimage far more than one would have anticipated…or desired, perhaps. The trip was full of adventure and adversity: Atlanta rush-hour traffic, substandard accommodations, and a major vehicle breakdown on the return voyage. At least the Wildcats won. Upon returning, I again encouraged students to think of the trip as a pilgrimage and the class constructed the following narrative to recount the many adventures."
What follows below is the class's tongue-in-cheek collaborative account of their travels and travails.
And it came to pass in those days, that a great flood fell upon the land. As a testament to our faith, we boarded the least stable, least comfortable form of transportation possible—the 15-passenger athletic vans. Lo! Evil spirits had already set upon one of our vessels, rendering it inoperable (due to a faulty fuel pump). We should’ve known then that dark times lay ahead, but remaining blissfully ignorant, we set out on our way. The voyage was long and arduous, but fitful sleep and the community of our fellow sojourners helped to pass the time. Alighting upon the metropolis of Atlanta, the Athenians, intent on hindering our progress, set forth the hoards of Atlanta (5 p.m. rush hour traffic), as yet another obstacle to overcome on our long journey toward our goal. The great flood proved its force as those weak in faith were swallowed by its waters.
Through trust, communication and determination, we vanquished the hoards of Atlanta only to arrive at our next trial of faith. Our accommodations did not live up to their claim, which was that they were the "best" in the land. The purely functional accommodations served to remind us that our journey was not for comfort or amusement, but for religious edification. The asceticism of the cells cannot be adequately expressed.
We chose not to dwell on the state of our dwellings, but rather to continue our pilgrimage to the game. Upon entering the stadium, our senses were besieged by a sea of blasphemous red. It was clear that we were the David to their Goliath. Initially, the forces of darkness dominated, but through hard work and fair play, the mighty David began to fell Goliath. The first half of the match came to a close with David slightly ahead.
During halftime intermission the forces of evil unfurled their dark magic. We witnessed the adversary engaging in pagan fertility rituals involving a cow and a banana competing atop tiny tricycles. Two sorcerers sought to distract us from our communal focus by rapidly transfiguring themselves during the half-time show. The forces of Goliath sent unto us as an emissary, the anti-Roush (University of Georgia President Michael Adams), who was once lured away from Centre by the promise of pagan delights. But the forces of good were able to resist his evil temptations.
In the end, all their evil efforts were for naught as the underdog Kentucky Wildscats proved victorious, vanquishing their opponents with the score of 69-54, as was prophesied of old. As we exited the contest, the great flood had receded, and there was much celebration. Perhaps too much. For some fell into revelry and found themselves brewing the hops of their own destruction. One of our party, in punishment, slept 'neath the washbasin.
We rose early the next morning, before the sun had reached the horizon, entering our un-sturdy vessels to begin our exodus back the Promised Land. Many fell immediately into sloth and slumber, nursing their sore heads throbbing from the night’s celebrations. We feasted on unclean victuals masquerading as appropriate sustenance given us by one dressed as a clown. It was an unhappy meal, and little did we know it would soon lead to our demise. For behold, one of our vessels had been depleted of its holy power.
From under the van there arose such a clatter,
that Dr. Hall pulled over to see what was the matter.
Some of us cried and some of us scoffed,
while Dr. Hall stood by himself and looked really ticked off.
The llamas commiserated with the preying cobras,
while seven stars circled the island of Mardi Gras.
We recognized the error of our ways and that what had befallen us was a test of our resolve in completing the holy pilgrimage. We performed sacrifice to redeem ourselves and were rewarded by the visitation of the AAA trinity, which included Amanda (whom we knew only as the disembodied voice from the burning bush…er, the cell phone), our van-wielding savior and prophet Moe, and Jeff the driver of the tow-truck. We were once again chastised for over-celebration as the vessel of our salvation brought by Moe became lodged in abysmal muck on the side of the road. But, joining together, we redeemed ourselves by once again overcoming adversity through trust, communication and determination. Praising Amanda, Moe and Jeff, we left our mark as a testament to our temporary imprisonment.
Thus began our period of wandering in the wilderness. We strove to re-unite our people by seeking those who had been taken up in the Spirit. We achieved our goal and met on the hallowed grounds of KFC in Tennessee, a harbinger of our successful return to the Promised Land—the land of basketball, llamas and all things good. Thirteen hours after pulling out of Athens we arrived home, the setting sun marking the end of our journey. Like a snake turning back upon its own tail, balance had been restored to the universe.