The past weekend raised the question of whether the Kansas University basketball program suffers from a sort of embarrassment of riches where fan support is concerned.
The unbeaten Jayhawks were playing a strong Arizona team on a Sunday night and the anticipation of most was that Allen Fieldhouse would be packed to the rafters for the contest, which turned out to be a true thriller.
Coach Bill Self noted that one section of the fieldhouse in particular, where loud and supportive students are known to dwell, had not been nearly as full as expected and that "lack of fan support" could have been a factor had KU lost, which it didn't.
But bear in mind that this was a Sunday night game, which is not routine for many KU followers. Further, it was at the tag end of the Thanksgiving holiday period when a number of students perhaps were still en route back to campus.
Add that the preceding night, Kansas and Missouri had played a football game that drew some 80,000 in Kansas City. Burned out after a long week of promotion, let down by the fact Missouri won, a bit hung over from the Thanksgiving festivities? All these and other factors, including homework and a new ticket policy for students, doubtless figured in the lower total of students at the game.
Yet the fact that the old basketball hall wasn't jammed for one game drew immediate comment about a "lack of support." Isn't that a bit much?
How many times over the years have KU fans turned out and yelled their lungs out to support the Jayhawks? It may have slipped some memories, but that hasn't always produced victory. How could a thousand or more KU students in the stands Sunday night have spurred the Jayhawks to perform visibly better? The fieldhouse hardly could have been any louder during critical points in the game.
Now and then can't the fans be allowed a sub-par showing? Sunday night happened to be an inopportune time for many KU followers and it seems the coach and other critics are out of line, spoiled perhaps. KU Athletic Department officials reportedly are looking at providing tickets for selected groups to ensure full houses for KU games.
Empty seats in Allen Fieldhouse aren't a common occurrence, and the coach, KU officials and even any of the players consider a one-time situation like this to be cause for criticism is a symbol of an embarrassment of riches. But the only embarrassment should be for those who complained about fans who do so much for them.
And bear in mind that the budget-masters at KU probably didn't lose a cent because all the tickets that produce revenue had long ago been bought and paid for.