A group of Kansas University basketball fans — numbering more than 350 strong on Facebook — have a request.
On the street
I don’t think it matters.
They love the Rock Chalk Chant during KU games, but it’s that “woo” they’re not so fond of.
No one involved can pinpoint exactly when the “woo” began popping up after each slow rendition of “Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU.” But a few things seem clear.
The woos started becoming much more noticeable sometime during the last five to six years and seem to be particularly prominent among students.
The Facebook group created in response, “There is no ‘WHOOO’ in the Rock Chalk Chant,” boasted just more than 350 people on Friday.
The anti-woo group has taken a few actions to preserve the chant in its original form. Larry Tenopir, a Topeka attorney, wrote a letter to the University Daily Kansan last semester arguing that the chant stands out because it’s so different from everyone else’s.
“Others bluster and scream,” Tenopir wrote. “The Rock Chalk Chant is slow, eerie, haunting.”
The people who “whoop and holler” during the chant are “destroying” it, he wrote.
In an interview, he said students today probably just don’t know how the chant was done in the past. Tenopir — and others — miss the eerie-sounding nature of the chant the way it was once performed.
There’s a reason, Tenopir said, that troops have used the chant in battle, repeating a bit of lore about the chant.
“It wasn’t because there was whooping,” he said.
Cat Jarzemkoski, coach of KU’s Spirit Squad, responded to a letter from the anti-woo group and agreed to have the members of the squad stop shaking their poms during the woos so they wouldn’t encourage them anymore.
“We wanted to preserve tradition,” Jarzemkoski said.
Members of the basketball band also no longer woo during the chant.
Matthew Diehl, who graduated from KU in 2004 and now lives in the Denver area, is another member of the Facebook group. This is obviously not a life or death matter, he said. And he said he encouraged fans to woo during other parts of the game, but he’s still interested in preserving the chant.
“That’s probably one of KU’s strongest brands,” he said.
While no organized effort has yet emerged to preserve the woo, it does have its defenders.
Lawrence resident Tracie Howell said she and her 2 1/2-year-old son Britton both enjoy the woo. At the end of a game, she said, it’s a good way to release some emotion, however you’re feeling it.
“However your woo comes out,” she said. “It can be a cheerleader or a male grunt kind of thing.”
Her son joins right in, and enjoys saying the chant — “woo” and all. He’ll even say it frequently outside the Allen Fieldhouse, too.
It would be hard to accuse Howell of turning her cheek on KU traditions, either. Her entire family is comprised of big basketball fans — so much so that her husband proposed to her at a KU NCAA tournament watch party in Dallas.
While Howell has no intention of stopping her woos anytime soon, she doesn’t hold any ill will toward those who don’t care for it.
“Either way,” Howell said, “at least we’re all fans.”