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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2001

Chants, songs have colorful history

August 11, 2001

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The Rock Chalk Chant has been the battle cry of KU fans for nearly 100 years and kicks off every football and basketball game.

In 1886, E.H.S. Bailey, a KU chemistry professor, wrote the cheer for his science club.

The chant originally consisted of the words "Rah, Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU." Before the university adopted the chant in 1897, an English professor suggested that "Rock Chalk" be substituted for "Rah, Rah" because it rhymed with Jayhawk and was symbolic of the chalky limestone found on Mount Oread.

KU's fight song, "I'm a Jayhawk," was written by George "Dumpy" Bowles, a student of the class of 1912. He originally wrote the song for one of his musical shows, but it didn't gain popularity until 1920 when there was a resurgence in school spirit.

The song helped raise funds to build Memorial Stadium and the Kansas Union, both World War I memorials.

Here are the words:

Talk about the Sooners, the Cowboys and the Buffs,

Talk about the Tiger and his tail,

Talk about the Wildcat and those Cornhuskin' boys,

But I'm the bird to make 'em weep and wail.

Chorus:

'Cause I'm a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay Jayhawk

Up at Lawrence on the Kaw

'Cause I'm a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay Jayhawk

With a sis-boom, hip hoorah.

Got a bill that's big enough to twist the Tiger's tail

Husk some corn and listen to the Cornhusker's wail

'Cause I'm a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay Jayhawk

Riding on the Kansas gale.

After every football score, the Marching Jayhawks play "I'm a Jayhawk" and then the crowd "waves the wheat."

This tradition started in the early days of KU football and consists of fans waiving their arms in the air.

The activity performed by a large crowd at Memorial Stadium resembles a breezy Kansas wheat field.

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