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Archive for Friday, March 11, 2005

Take a joke

Could the Missouri police chief be accused of overreacting just a bit to a Jayhawk jibe?

March 11, 2005

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Former Kansas University football coach Don Fambrough was noted for pep talks to his Jayhawks, particularly when they were approaching another contest against archrival Missouri. The colorful Fambrough, often accused of not letting facts spoil a good story, now and then would try to give his athletes a little extra incentive for success: He'd hint that infamous raider William Quantrill was a Missouri graduate -- and that it would be only fitting for the Jayhawks to play their hearts out for revenge.

But most people, with both Missouri and Kansas loyalties, recognized such rhetoric for what it was and didn't let it rile them.

Mostly, a little good-natured joking back and forth between MU and KU followers brightens many a life and leads to many entertaining moments. All the more reason the Missouri campus chief of police needs to be ribbed unmercifully for his overreaction to a caper last Sunday by some Kansas basketball fans.

The four Jayhawk backers took to Mizzou Arena a banner intended to emphasize KU's mastery in the court series (now 161-92). Had the banner been profane, pornographic, disgusting or gross, it would have been different, but all it did was call attention to the various "names" that might have been applied to the new arena and concluded that the best title might be "Allen Fieldhouse East." In other words, MU can call it what it chooses, but since KU dominates the series, it might as well have a KU flavor.

We must recall that at one point the basketball venue had been named after the daughter of a donor who kicked in some $25 million to build the place. When it was discovered the young woman, not an MU graduate, might have received a bit of extracurricular academic aid in getting a degree elsewhere, the title was changed from Paige Arena to Mizzou Arena.

It wasn't long before the four Kansas kids were being hassled by none other than the Missouri campus police chief who obviously wears his heart on his sleeve where the team, the arena or what-have-you are concerned. He tried to confiscate the sign, get the carriers hustled out of the arena and, as one of the local fans pointed out, got caught up in a ridiculous "abuse of power."

Now, had the sign been badly off-color, it might have been different, but it was a clever jibe at the Tigers and their overall dominance by Jayhawks in basketball, even though MU won Sunday. Bear in mind that the infamous Missouri Antlers "cheering section" has been abusive and profane in so many ways for years and yet they have been tolerated by the school and, we suppose, the campus police department.

Why the confrontation in the first place? What's wrong with a little good-natured ribbing? Further, why the hassle when the Tigers were winning? How about a little tolerance and grace? Is the Missouri hierarchy capable of that? Nobody put it better than one of the harassed students who commented: "Even in victory they can't do it right."

An overreaction by the police chief? That's a charitable characterization under the circumstances.

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