Archive for Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jayhawks not on parade

August 19, 2009


The Kansas University Band Day parade in downtown Lawrence is a great tradition, but tradition just doesn’t get the respect it once did.

KU officials announced last week that there would be no parade for Band Day on Sept. 26. There just won’t be time for the 25 bands to march down Massachusetts Street and make it to a game with an 11 a.m. kickoff.

Why so early? Well, that’s when Fox Sports Net says the game will start. They’re the people with the money, so that’s when the game will start.

Actually, KU officials probably are counting themselves lucky that they know the specific starting time for the Sept. 26 game more than a month in advance. Times have only been set for the first four games in the Jayhawks 12-game schedule. That includes three of the Jayhawks seven “home” games (if you include the Missouri game at Arrowhead Stadium). All the rest of the times will be set when television schedules are set, and all the public and alumni activities that go along with a KU football game will just have to adjust accordingly.

The good news, of course, is that the Jayhawks are gaining enough prominence to attract television network interest. The bad news is that, because of the money involved, the television people end up calling most of the shots. The KU Alumni Association and other campus groups are getting used to the inconvenience and do a great job of planning events to work around last-minute game schedules, but it still has the feeling of the tail wagging the dog.

The annual KU Band Day parade attracted hundreds of thousands of people over the years. Many of these have been local residents and others in town to see the game, but many others also came from outside Lawrence with their friends and children just to watch the parade and hear the music. All those people in downtown Lawrence represented potential shoppers and sales tax receipts for Lawrence and the state.

Band Day, which once attracted 50 to 100 bands to Lawrence, also was a great recruiting opportunity for KU, bringing thousands of prospective students and many of their families to campus. Of course, many of those years, demand was pretty low for seats in Memorial Stadium and it wasn’t a problem to fill the northern bowl with students in colorful band uniforms. Could KU officials be intentionally scaling back the event so they’ll have more seats to sell?

We’ll still be looking forward to a great half-time performance by the KU Marching Jayhawks and a big group of high school musicians from across the state on Sept. 26, but it’s too bad about the parade.


Ken Lassman 8 years, 9 months ago

I would have to agree that the recruiting value of getting kids from all over Kansas to come with their families to play in the Band Day parade is way more important than TV coverage. I know a surprising number of Jayhawkers who sealed the deal in their minds to come to KU when they were kids who came to Lawrence to march in the parade and stand out there at halftime. Me--and my kids--have both marched and watched many a parade from Mass St., then dipped into some stores before leaving. To give all that up for a TV spot is pretty shortsighted in my book.

BigAl 8 years, 9 months ago

I don't know how this all works but I get real tired of allowing televison to dictate game times. By scheduling this Band Day/Family Day game at 11:00am it just proves that television isn't concerned at all about the universities, the students, the fans and their needs. They are only concerned about themselves and their ratings. I had family coming in from out of state to attend both the parade and the game. Now, those out-of-staters won't be spending any money downtown. That is a shame and a loss for the city. My kid marched in this parade in high school and now as a Marching Jayhawk. Needless to say, they are all disappointed.

I'm sure this game could have been scheduled later but television would have had to move one of the glory teams to this time slot. I wish the conferences would somehow, some way, stand up to these networks.

avoice 8 years, 9 months ago

You're overlooking the fact that many of those bands are unable to make the trip this year due to school budget cuts. Also, band participation has been declining steadily for a number of years now, because parents are more interested in having their kids in sports and time and finances seldom allow for both sports and music. Elementary schools de-emphasize music education (and arts in general). By the time they're in junior high when they should be starting band, kids/families just aren't interested. Even if they are interested, some may decide not to participate in band in the current economy; families can't afford the instruments, books and supplies. So, just maybe the small number of bands is out of KU's control.

Nonsense 8 years, 9 months ago

I hate that there will not be a parade. That is one game we always go to. It is a fun day in Lawrence and worth the trip to town.

CheneyHawk 8 years, 9 months ago

As a an alumni, former band member and season ticket holder, this really saddens me. A trip to a college campus was the trigger for my wife to consider college- 1st woman in her family to make that leap. Too many kids don't get that chance. The other part is the impact on the downtown economy. This had been a unique part of Lawrence and KU. Sad day.

Danimal 8 years, 9 months ago

Growing up further west in Kansas, KU Band Day was my only experience with KU and Lawrence. Those experiences definitely influenced me when choosing a college to attend.

On a side note, KU needs to renovate and expand Memorial Stadium again.

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