Mizzou-KU in the WSJ
| Peter Klein |
We don’t normally discuss trivia such as college football here at O&M (we prefer other trivia). But when your team’s big game makes the front page of the WSJ, you have to say something.
A story in today’s paper, “New Powers in College Football Carry Old Baggage,” focuses on this weekend’s showdown between the undefeated 2nd-ranked Kansas Jayhawks and the 4th-ranked Missouri Tigers, two normally-mediocre teams that have exploded onto the national stage this season. The subject is not the game itself, but the historical hatred between Missourians and Kansans that goes back to the Civil War (or, as we call it around here, the War or Northern Aggression).
This hatred dates back to the 1850s, when the Great Plains state of Kansas became a beachhead for men around the country committed to ending slavery. Many, however, hid behind that noble cause, all the while killing, pillaging and raping their way across the culturally Southern state to the east, Missouri. These Kansas guerrillas called themselves Jayhawkers — supposedly a combination of two birds, the jay and the hawk.
One of my colleagues gets in a word: “Today, it is a sore point among Missouri fans that the University of Kansas mascot is the Jayhawk. Matt Gaunt, a development officer for Missouri’s agriculture college, concedes that his state’s fighters committed atrocities as well, but notes that Missouri never named a team after them.” One KU fan sees it differently: “The Jayhawkers defended Kansas against terrorists and helped make Kansas a free state just before the start of the Civil War.”
I suppose I should end this post with deep thoughts about the social psychology of sporting events, the corrupting influence of college football on American universities, and the like, but I’m all out of deep thoughts today. I have seen evidence that a winning football team increases the next year’s applicant pool, but we don’t know what the marginal impact of the dollars spent on football would have been if spent elsewhere. Oh, and we know that the NCAA basically functions as a giant, welfare-reducing cartel.