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Archive for Friday, January 16, 2004

Woodling: KU guilty, but MU to blame

January 16, 2004

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Across from where I was sitting in Allen Fieldhouse the other night, a woman stood and began to wave her arms above her head.

A Kansas State player had just fouled out and the woman was eager to continue the Kansas University basketball tradition of mocking a disqualified opposing player by "waving the wheat" as the pep band played the old "Wheaties" theme song.

But when the band did not play the "Wheaties" song, the woman looked around, saw she was in the minority and sheepishly sat down.

Slowly word has trickled down that the KU band no longer performs its longtime "Wheaties" rite. The Big 12 Conference considers it unsportsmanlike, and Kansas has complied by shutting the band down.

We also learned this week that coaches and administrators in the Big 12 cannot say anything derogatory about another league school.

Last weekend, KU women's basketball coach Marian Washington railed about how her team had been mistreated by fans at Missouri after a fracas broke out between a few players on both teams after the conclusion of a game. Some members of Missouri's band, Washington said, spat on her players as they ran down the tunnel to their dressing area.

For her public complaints, Washington was reprimanded by KU athletic director Lew Perkins and commissioner Kevin Weiberg.

Essentially, the KU band and Washington were in violation of this sentence from the Big 12 Code of Conduct: "At the heart of sportsmanship is the commitment of the institutions towards respect for the opposition and those officiating contests in the 21 sports sponsored by the Big 12."

We knew you couldn't say anything bad about the officiating -- that's a no-no as old as dirt -- but it's ironic this sportsmanship directive would result in a rebuke for a Kansas coach saying something bad about MU, because Missouri venues are generally regarded as the hellholes of Big 12 athletics.

Remember last fall when a Nebraska football player was taunted by an MU student who had rushed on the field, pushed the student and then was threatened with being arrested for assault?

And take the Antlers. Take the Antlers, please.

Those of us who have witnessed those Missouri goofballs hurling invectives at KU players and coaches before games had to laugh when reading the comments in Thursday's Journal-World by MU chancellor Richard Wallace.

"We need to gracefully bury the hatchet," Wallace said at a gathering of Big 12 professors in Kansas City, Mo. "Tell Bob Hemenway to call me ... maybe we can smoke a peace pipe."

Better yet, why doesn't Wallace call Hemenway and tell him he'll get rid of the Antlers if KU will ban those "Muck Fizzou" T-shirts? Both are violations of the Big 12 sportsmanship policy, aren't they? We could call it the Kansas-Missouri Compromise of 2004.

Will banning the Antlers and those T-shirts dampen the intensity of the Kansas-Missouri rivalry? Not on your life. You can't legislate human nature. But you need to throw a bone -- or smoke a peace pipe -- every now and then to emphasize that every rivalry has its limits.

No one condones the fight that broke out after last Saturday's KU-MU women's game. Yet, the fracas may have been like an auto accident that leads to the invention of a new safety device.

Over the years, the KU-MU rivalry has produced a handful of regrettable incidents on the basketball floor involving the schools' men's teams. Now the women have joined that dubious mix.

If that isn't quite a cause for alarm, it's at least a call for more than lip service.

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