I live in a border town. Kansas City is half Kansas, half Missouri. And while that may all sound like flyover country to some of you, it’s actually the home of a beautifully renovated and revived downtown district, more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation, and a sports rivalry that makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like BFFs.
You might hear a bit of good-natured ribbing during football season, but rarely does the University of Missouri feel a real threat from the University of Kansas. Come basketball season, though, KU often gets its revenge and the claws come out on both sides. And no matter where you turn, everyone you meet is trash talking their team’s opponent. From Sunday morning’s sermon to the water cooler chatter to a late-night debate on Facebook, March Madness – and who’s going to win – is THE topic of conversation.
I’ve lived here my whole life. I know that this happens every year. I live with a
rabid enthusiastic Mizzou fan. So I should know better than to engage in sports talk on Facebook.
On Monday morning (after MU won the Big 12 championship and KU, well, didn’t), I logged into Facebook and as I scrolled down my homepage, I noticed that a guy I went to high school with had posted a slam against Missouri fans. Another one of our classmates had commented and since I was feeling punchy (apparently), I did, too. The three of us bantered back and forth a bit, all in good fun, and briefly even discussed something else entirely.
Then a couple other guys jumped into the conversation [two guys from my high school who I’m not Facebook friends with, just in case you’re curious] and it got ugly.
I was so annoyed! And I thought to myself, “Pssshh. That, right there, is why I’m not friends with those guys. Ugh. Nothing like being sent back to high school. Eghhlllkl.” [“Eghhlllkl” is my way of spelling out the deep guttural sigh of teenage girls across the land, often witnessed in conjunction with massive eye rolling activity.]
Later that night, though, I just had to laugh at myself. First of all, I jumped in to defend MU when I don’t really care if they win or earn sports fan respect, much to my husband and daughter’s dismay. Second of all, my Facebook profile actually says, “Studied at University of Kansas.” Usually that line simply reminds me of my unfinished master’s degree, but this week it pointed out the absurdity of me participating in a MU vs. KS conversation.
The biggest reason I had to laugh, though, was out of self-awareness and a touch of embarrassment. As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted so badly to have a team to call my own. I’ve chased after others’ favorite teams, secretly hoping that every new team is the one I can cheer for without abandon or regret.
In middle school, I briefly called myself a [KU] Jayhawk because the boy I liked (*sigh* Also known as the Facebook friend who started this week’s Facebook debate in the first place. Yeah. Same guy.) rooted for Kansas. Later, I switched sides and shouted M-I-Z-Z-O-U with my friend Mindy, whose family, I’m pretty sure, bleeds black and gold. Then my cousins went to K-State, and I briefly flirted with the idea of wearing all purple, all the time. And now, out of apathy or ignorance (depending on who you ask, of course), I defer to Mark and align myself with MU on most days.
For such an opinionated person, I am one fair-weather sports fan! It’s weird, right? After all, I’m the same girl who wrote about being passionate – even embarrassingly so – just a few months ago.
Then again, I’m not sure any of this is weird at all. I like sports well enough, especially basketball (even though I was never very good at it myself), but I grew up in a small town and went to a small-ish college, neither of which had cheer-worthy teams while I was there. And, while it was not normal for me to chime in on a Facebook debate about sports, ’tis the season, especially around my part of the country.
I guess I’ll just chalk it all up to March Madness.
Do you have a team you call your own? Who do you think will go to the Final Four?
I had to smile as I was reading this. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley area of VA, went to UVA and have been a UVA fan pretty much forever. However, all of my friends from the Deep South and the Midwest taught me in law school that most of us here in Virginia are complete amateurs when it comes to being rabid sports fans. Apparently, having orange and blue ribbons that I sometimes remember to wear and doing my March Madness brackets based on which mascots I think sound most fierce doesn’t quite cut it. :-)
Haha! Amy, I am with you – some of those mascots sound wimpy compared to others! Seems like they should always win!
Um – the fierce-sounding ones should win. Not the wimpy ones.
Growing up in my home, we didn’t have a choice in whether or not we would love March Madness. Also, growing up in NC with two of the biggest rivals in college history makes for an intense month of basketball! :) I’ve tried to not take part in the bracket challenge but I get sucked in every time. My mom is from Michigan and is a huge MSU (Spartansfan and the rest of my family are huge UNC (Carolina Tarheel) fans. So we have a Big 10 and ACC rivarly as well. :)
Ohhhh yeah, you didn’t have a chance in North Carolina! Hope your teams do better than mine (aka, my husband’s) did!
Sorry, girl, as you know I’m Jayhawk all the way. And by all the way, I mean b/c of that one year I studied there (and I guess the being born and bred in Kansas). :) And I have to admit, it is hard to be a Jayhawk fan on this side of the State Line. You should just go ahead and pick one. You’ve made your home and life in KC, so you have every right to be a Tiger (or a ‘Roo). Embrace the Tiger (wow, I can’t believe I just said that! ha!).
I know. It would really mean the world to Mark if I would go full-on Tiger. Then again, the whole topic is a sensitive one today. *sigh*
I had to giggle when I read your post… I did my first 2 years of my under grad at Univ. of Idaho and then transfered to Univ. of Missouri – which is where I met my husband. He grew up in KC and was the only one of his family who DID NOT go to KU. (He went to Mizzou and bounced around to several other schools, finally graduating from another school in the south after we got married). His entire family are “enthusiastic” sports fans, and I tend to roll my eyes. I know the fight song for Idaho, but still can’t remember all the words for Mizzou’s despite obtaining my degree there! LOL!
Anyway, we’re still biting our nails at the moment for today’s game… GO MIZZOU!
Uggghhhh, that game! Honestly, I just don’t care who wins anything, but that was a shocker and a heartbreaker!