Archive for Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Fly Route

March 29, 2007

Alright Jayhawk fans, you kids can take this as a compliment: I should have written this column last week. I thought it'd be OK, however, and I put it off.

Oops.

I didn't expect Kansas to lose in the quarterfinals of this year's NCAA tournament, not considering the way they were playing, the resolve they'd shown and the firepower they packed.

But all who know me well or who frequent this column also know I didn't shed many tears upon realizing I had misjudged the best time to write this.

No -- Saturday was a glorious day in Reichenbergerland, the day when once again the mighty Jayhawks were slain, when the sun shone through and peace turned to the land. Ya know that scene at the end of Return of the Jedi, the remnants of the second Death Star providing spectacular fireworks as the Ewok band plays in the forest?

That's what it was like.

But I don't write to needle -- like I said, I expected the Hawks to still be around. I write to explain why I so prize the attitude I maintained throughout KU's run and why it frustrates me to no end that more K-Staters weren't with me.

I've been watching the KU games with two college friends who are Kansas State fanatics. They travel for every football game they can and began doing the same with basketball this season, even making the trip this season to the Cats' Las Vegas tournament.

I love the enthusiasm, but recently we've determined that we're going to have to disagree on KU sometimes. These guys found a way to shelve their typical disdain for the Hawks and cheer for them through the tournament.

These are guys that were actually interviewed by ESPN prior to this year's Big Monday K-State-KU game about their hatred for KU. These are guys made t-shirts after KU self-reported all of its NCAA violations a few years ago that read: "seriously ... you cheated at women's basketball???"

They're guys who nearly got kicked out of Bramlage Coliseum in years past for sneaking hilariously dirty signs in taunting the Hawks.

And they're guys that cheered for KU over the last two weeks. The reasoning, they explained to me 1,000 times, was they were tired of the Big 12 getting the short end of the stick, that the conference's embarrassing performance in recent NCAA tournaments had gotten to the point where it was actually hurting everyone in the conference.

That's a point I can't actually disagree with, but it's not nearly enough to make me cheer for KU.

It's a debate that waged throughout the ranks of K-Staters. People fought on message boards and argued in real life. There is a laundry list of reasons for Cats to root for Hawks, but again, none that were good enough for me.

The problem, as I see it, is basically it really doesn't matter. KU gaining the support of my two friends and of who-knows-how-many other Cat fans clearly didn't make much of a difference. As much as I'd like to think I'm essential, I doubt my cheers did much to affect things either.

So if it doesn't matter who we actually cheer for (assuming you're not at the arena) then why on earth would you cheer for KU? What fun is that?

Usually when people ask why I am so anti-KU, I give them a short stereotype joke. I explain that K-State represents the true small-town values of our state and that it's incomparable with KU's bastardized combination of the 1960's, greedy aristocracy and suburban hell.

Really, I know that's all just stupid stereotypes. Heck, I live in Johnson County. Who am I to mock suburbia? My best friend is in law school at KU and as long as the girl had a great personality (cough ... cough), I'd consider dating someone from there.

But I think its fun. It's fun to razz when my team wins and swallow my pride when they lose. It's fun to cringe on the edge of my seat when our teams play.

I don't hate KU. That's ridiculous.

Maybe a K-State-KU rivalry will never breed the contempt that is inherent in the KU-MU rivalry. Maybe the teams will never play with as much on the line as K-State and Nebraska did for years in football. That doesn't mean we should all flop to the other side when one team does well, however.

However we got the sides we're on, we should take pride in that. We should realize we aren't that different, but its fun that we aren't all on the same side.

Cheer for KU? Na -- what, do I look like some kind of hippy?

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