Archive for Friday, September 18, 1998

WHY ASK FOR TROUBLE?

September 18, 1998

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Kansas University followers, such as band members, have had trouble on the road before, so it's wise to halt future ventures until changes are instituted.

Kansas University officials in charge of such things have decided against allowing a full marching band to return to Columbia the next time KU and Missouri meet in football. Such a decision is understandable and acceptable in view of the way Jayhawk band members were derided and accosted the past weekend.

But such treatment in Columbia is not new. In 1960, for example, when Kansas upset a heavily favored undefeated Tiger team by a 23-7 score, things were even worse. Not only band members but KU fans actually had reason to fear for their lives because of the onslaught of bottles and other objects tossed their way, and because of the threats they got from Missouri followers. There were a number of physical attacks on KU people. A decision was made at the time not to send a full band to Columbia in the future. Many KU fans refused to return. For a time, at least, things got better.

But there seems to be something about KU and its representatives that brings out the worst in Missouri fans. Perhaps it was last year's KU upset of the Tigers and the chance for revenge this year that helped trigger the new assaults. The KU-MU rivalry in recent years has lacked the old sharpness it once had. But MU is doing better on the gridiron now, KU sprang a surprise a year ago and there were people in the crowd of about 60,000 the past weekend who decided ugliness is far superior to decency and fair play.

In the past, Kansas people, including band members, also have been mistreated during visits to Manhattan for games with Kansas State. But the outbursts have never been quite as serious as they periodically have been at Missouri. It is too bad so many good Missouri people have to watch the school's reputation tarnished by a few. At the same time, it would be wise for those people to consider why this happens so often and try to do something about it -- certainly more than they have done. Meanwhile, KU would do well to discontinue sending units such as its outstanding marching band to be subjected to such barbarism. Who needs that kind of grief, particularly for a mere athletic event?

This is not to say that Kansas University crowds and fans are always perfect when it comes to dealing with guests for football and basketball games. KU people have been known to lash out in non-complimentary fashion against Kansas State and Missouri faithful.

MU Chancellor Richard Wallace is quoted as saying, ``We do not condone any form of disrespect for guests on our campus, and we expect all members of the MU community to take responsibility for their own behavior.''

This sounds good, but unfortunately, history shows there is little serious discipline or control of the ugly fans at MU athletic events, particularly when the Kansas Jayhawks are the opponent. The ``Antlers'' group at MU basketball games is a disgrace to the school, and it is obvious school administrators have little control over this group.

Now, MU fans at football games are writing a new chapter on disgraceful crowd behavior.

KU basketball coach Roy Williams is well aware of the situation in Hearnes Fieldhouse, and now KU football coach Terry Allen knows what to expect when he takes his team to Faurot Field. Bob Foster, KU's director of bands and an old-timer at KU, should have known what to expect.

The thousands of well-behaved fans and goods sportsmen among MU alumni, friends and students are sure to be embarrassed and ashamed by the actions of a few who tarnish the image of the school and put into question the sincerity of school officials who say they deplore such action.

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