Archive for Thursday, January 5, 2012

Heard on the Hill: Opponents mobilize against the “Woo” after the Rock Chalk Chant; KUMC leader’s parrot can perform the chant (without the woo); recent grad creates stories for NPR show

January 5, 2012


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• Those anti-“Woo” people are back and at it again.

I first wrote about this particular issue a little more than a year ago. It’s all about the Rock Chalk Chant, apparently. I’ve listened for this since I first wrote about it, and I’m pretty sure I know what these folks are talking about.

At the end of glorious, victorious basketball games, these folks would like to hear a slow, steady, eerie, “Roocccck Chaaaaaaaaaaaalk, Jaaaayhawwwwwwwwk, K-UUUUUUUUUUU,” one right after the other.

Today, there’s a group of people — mainly students, it seems — who add a nice, rousing “WOOOOOOO!” to the end of it. The anti-Wooers feel this ruins the overall effect.

What’s interesting to me, is that a Facebook group of about 275 people is trying to motivate folks to take action against the “Woo.” And they seem to have made some inroads. According to wall posts on the group's publicly available page, some of its members brought a sign to the North Dakota game reading “There is no ‘WOO’ in the Rock Chalk Chant.’”

Another person emailed the leader of the spirit squad, after noticing the Rock Chalk Dancers were apparently shaking their pompoms during “WOO” time. The person posted that he got a response back indicating the pom-shaking would stop, and the spirit squad would undertake no further efforts to encourage woos.

They’ve written letters to the editor, suggested bake sales to raise money for shirts (perhaps a joke?) and chastised Big Jay for encouraging the woo.

“Definitely grounds for impeachment,” one member of the group wrote in a comment.

I think much of this is meant in fun (I haven’t noticed any proceedings beginning to impeach Big Jay), but a good part is serious, too. When I was at KU as a student, I don’t remember a woo, and rather enjoyed the solemn-sounding chant at the end of games.

But I’m also sensitive to the other side of the argument. Though I’ve never heard from an actual wooer, I imagine people woo because it’s fun to woo, especially when you’ve just won the game. And if you can’t have fun at a KU basketball game, where can you have fun?

• One post I particularly enjoyed from the anti-wooers linked to this rather offbeat video featuring KUMC leader Barbara Atkinson’s Rock Chalking parrot, Buddy.

I’d seen it a few other places, too, and it’s probably best experienced without any additional comment from my end.

Except to point out, as the Facebook group did, that Buddy definitely doesn’t woo.


Parrot does the Rock Chalk chant

Kansas University Medical Center leader Barbara Atkinson's parrot, Buddy, has a special talent.

• Becky Sullivan, a recent KU graduate and former disc jockey, archivist, production director and station manager at the student radio station KJHK, was able to parlay a recent internship at National Public Radio into two news stories for the program “All Things Considered.”

One story is on the iPhone photo app called Instagram. And the other was a collaborative piece she contributed to on “Music We Missed in 2011.”

Sullivan was also an intern at KANU/Kansas Public Radio.

• Submit (WOO!) tips (WOO!) for (WOO!) Heard on the Hill (WOO!) to (WOO!) WOO! WOO!


Brent Cagle 6 years, 4 months ago

The WOO is not nearly as idiotic and offensive as shouting "home of the Chiefs" at the end of the national anthem. This should have been their first target.

Tristan Moody 6 years, 4 months ago

Agree. We aren't the home of the Chiefs, and it's moronic to shout that anywhere but Arrowhead stadium.

eljakeo 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree as well. I don't really care one way or the other about the "woo," but as a veteran who has a certain respect for my country and its national anthem, it is hard not to punch nearby people in the face when they disrespect the flag and the anthem.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

" it is hard not to punch nearby people in the face when they disrespect the flag and the anthem."

But apparently not all that much respect for the constitution.

Tony Kisner 6 years, 4 months ago

I am not sure shouting Chiefs is my idea of protected speech. But I will fight for your rights to do so if you must.

eljakeo 6 years, 4 months ago

Absolutely right. I'm not saying it should be illegal for them to do it, I'm just saying I personally want to punch them in the face.

youowethehawks 6 years, 4 months ago

I think we should start adding "woo"s to the national wooo anthem. Oh say woooo can you woooo see! Sounds great doesn't it? As for the "Chiefs" part, I'm pretty sure that's how Francis Scott Key intended the poem to end.

The reason wooo pisses we anti-wooo-ers off is because it cheapens a nearly 100 year tradition of singing a death-knell at vanquished opponents. There's plenty of time for woo's after the horn sounds and the chant is a haunting prelude to that. If you couple it with the inability to correctly execute a rest-clap-rest-clap during the breaks of "I'm a Jayhawk" you have a serious erosion of our long-established crowd participation traditions. ...a cheapening, if you will. Our traditions should be valued and lauded, not trivialized and cheapened.

RoeDapple 6 years, 4 months ago

Best way to get people to do something is tell them to stop.

TecmoSuperBowlChristianOkoye 6 years, 4 months ago

If a "woo" bothers you that much you need to reassess your priorities in life. It's's supposed to be fun.

Clickker 6 years, 4 months ago

Really, they are mis pronouncing the KU as well. Now, they say "Kay youuuuuuuu"...the classic chant is more "KAYyyyyyyyyy Youuu"..hard to write it for a non music person, but the emhpasis should be a little more on the KAY and the you is not as drawn out as the current students make it.

Also, the "Chiefs " thing at the end of the national anthem just makes us look stupid...since AFH and Mem stadium are simply not the home of the Chiefs.

Scaevola 6 years, 4 months ago

The Rock Chalk chant is a solemn death chant of victory. We don't need to cheer because we knew we were going to win, we're KU basketball and we win, especially in the Phog. Staters and Miserians cheer because they aren't accustomed to winning. We're better than everybody else, thats why there is no "woo" in the Rock Chalk chant. I sympathize with the "geezers".

elanorh 6 years, 4 months ago

The current (and recent) KU students don't "own" this chant. It's been the chant for generations. Unless the current (and recent) KU students who choose to insert a "wooo" into the chant want it to become meaningless, they need to stop. It's not just the students, anymore, either - it's a large segment of the crowd. But the students, as current caretakers of the traditions, are the ones who can STOP it.

The true Rock Chalk Chant is the one commentators speak of when they say it's the best cheer in college basketball. With the woo, the chant falls to third (behind this: )

Take a little pride in our traditions. Changing the Rock Chalk Chant to make it one's "own" makes as much sense as deciding that the best entry to Fraser Hall is via the first floor windows, instead of the doors.

rcjhKKKKUUUU 6 years, 4 months ago

I' am a current student at KU ('14). I understand both sides of this argument. In all of the years that I have gone to a game with my father (a KU alumni, '88) I have never once seen him (nor his old college buddies) add a "woo" to the chant. If the people who started the facebook page were serious about the no "woo's" they would target and reach out to the people that are doing it, current students. Students don't read the LJW, most don't even go to You would have to get an article in the UDK. The group should also specify whether there can be "woo's" in the pre-game chant after the Alma Mater and not in chant near the end of the game? Or just no "woo's" in general? Because as far as I remember this has been going on all through the 2000's, and ALL the youtube footage that goes back about 5+ years have the "woo's" in them. If this was going to end it would have ended 5-10 years ago when it sounds like it started, since most people have been saying it didn't go on in the 90's. And as far as that group goes, that Matthew Diehl you interviewed didn't attend KU, he went to University of Colorado (there are some other Buffaloes supporting that page too) , therefore his opinion doesn't matter nor does anyone who supports the no "woo's" cause that are not current KU students or are not KU graduates. And those of us who do go, or went, to KU would know that there is an event at the beginning of the year that is held in Memorial during HawkWeek called Traditions Night. It is free to the public and an open invitation to students (mainly new students) to learn the chants, songs, and traditions of KU. If there was a message before they did the rock chalk chant at Traditions Night then you would be stopping the problem for forthcoming years. I personally would like to see the “woo’s” end. There was a hand out that I was given my freshman year that said “Start A New KU Tradition,” I think it was for campus recycling or something, but I love that saying as I feel the majority of students want to create a positive tradition that will last forever and I feel that the “woo’s” are tarnishing a long held tradition. “Start A New KU Tradition” not “Modify And Destroy A KU Tradition.” No more “woo’s” but also, no more non-KU students & non-KU alumni (NON-JAYHAWKS!) preaching about KU Tradition. We wouldn’t let a tiger tell us what to do would we?

elanorh 6 years, 4 months ago

Someone could infer from my Facebook profile that I didn't attend my undergrad, because KU is listed as the school I attended (grad school). Facebook lists the most recent school attended on our profiles. There's a reason that the KU-CU game in Boulder was called "Allen Fieldhouse West" for a long time -- many KU alums attend CU for grad school. I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case for Mr. Diehl.

Until recently, Traditions Night taught the chant properly (I don't know if it's still the case, but a couple years ago, it was). As someone who has written letters, I think RE-emphasizing how to do the Rock Chalk Chant (and practicing, so that new students can hear it the way it should actually sound) is a good start at reclaiming our chant. That's actually something I've suggested in my letters.

Right now, it sounds like a chant we could hear at the "Octagon of Oops" or Misery, and I know no Jayhawk, current or alum, wants that.

scarletbhound 6 years, 4 months ago

The cornerstone of KU basketball is a tradition -- Naismith, Allen, championships etc. -- unmatched by any other school. The Rock Chalk chant is an integral part of that tradition. For the current generation of students to, in effect, trash KU's tradition by adding an idiotic "woo" suggests that they are irresponsible custodians of a heritage that extends more than a century. They are an embarrassment to the thousands of KU alumni and fans who realize that KU is about history, legacy and the bonds that once united Jayhawks across the generations. It would be nice if the current effort to ban the "woo" would be successful. Unfortunately, I fear, too many of today's KU students are so self-absorbed and arrogant -- making "fun" of a cherished tradition -- that they will never understand any of what I'm writing. Sad.

StirrrThePot 6 years, 4 months ago

Buddy, you rock. That video is awesome! Thanks to Dr. Barbara Atkinson and the LJW for sharing that!

hail2oldku 6 years, 4 months ago

It is all Nature Boy Rick Flair's fault.

gsxr600 6 years, 4 months ago

KU student checking in. The wooo is dumb. I don't know where it started but it should stop. The chant should be solemn and "u" in k-u should should fade with an echo off the walls. That will always bring the hairs up on anyones neck.

Jack McEnaney 6 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if bailey and other traditionalist from the late 19th century were outraged at rockchalk. "It is rah rah jayhawk ku!" They would say. Not rock chalk. While it does sound spooky without the woo, I don't think the students will change. It will take a strong leader to switch the chant back.

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