There should be no question in the minds of Kansas University athletics department officials or administrators in Strong Hall about the interest, enthusiasm and loyalty of KU basketball fans.
The turnout Sunday afternoon of 80,000 to 100,000 people to see and cheer the 2008 KU basketball team should have sent a loud message to university officials. There is, indeed, an extremely strong, positive relationship between a wide cross-section of Lawrence and Kansas residents and the university, particularly its football and basketball players.
This is a historic relationship, not something that just developed in the past five, 10 or 20 years. This has been built and nurtured over many years but it should not be taken for granted.
The parade was fine, but it left a large majority of those who lined Massachusetts and 19th streets and Naismith Drive wanting more. Many had camped out from early Sunday morning to make sure they had a good place to watch and cheer the players.
The parade lasted 10 minutes from the time the color guard passed until a Lawrence police car brought up the rear of the parade.
It is difficult to figure out why it took so much prompting by Lawrence Chamber of Commerce officials, as well as strong public sentiment, asking for a parade before KU officials, whether they were in the Allen Fieldhouse complex or Strong Hall, agreed to a parade.
The rather arrogant first announcement that there were no plans for a parade and then the eventual curt statement that KU would agree to a short parade continues to puzzle many. Why wouldn't these officials be thrilled and appreciative that Lawrence residents wanted to put on a parade to show their appreciation and enthusiastic support of the players and coaches?
The pre-parade excitement, happiness and anticipation of those who lined the parade was sky high. It turned out to, indeed, be a "short" parade, leaving many to ask, "Is that it?" after the police car signaled it was over. However, fan appreciation was so great that most of those along Massachusetts Street left with smiles on their faces even though they were puzzled and disappointed that it wasn't longer.
Many also wondered why the university or athletic department did not want to have a parade for the KU football team to recognize its Big 12 Conference record and victory in the Orange Bowl. There are many who continue to be unhappy with KU's decision to take the KU-Missouri football game out of Lawrence and move it to Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.
Lawrence area fan support for KU athletics is strong, but it should not be taken for granted or abused by an attitude among some university officials that it is a one-way street and that these fans always will remain loyal no matter how they are treated.
Regardless, the parade was great, even though it left the 80,000 to 100,000 fans wanting more.