The talk of Kansas City this week, at least between the sports fans among us, is the very odd (and perhaps totally unsurprising) contretemps between gridiron athletes and hardwood athletes. The word among the local media is that tensions between the two squads are long-running but heretofore suppressed, or at least kept out of the spotlight. However, with the e-discussions of Tyshawn “point plankn” Taylor, the whole conflict has bubbled to the surface. The cause, shockingly? Ladies. Ah, men — have we ever fought over anything else? (Religion, I suppose. And oil.) In today’s Star, the elegantly named J. Brady McCollough manages to score some interviews with anonymous former athletes, who tell JBM that things were pretty much always thus.
“It’s always been a feud between basketball and football players,” said a recently graduated former KU football player who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s been an ongoing thing.”
A recently departed former KU basketball player had the same experience.
“It’s about who’s more popular on campus with the girls and stuff like that,” said the player, who also requested anonymity. “It’s escalated really bad now, but it’s always been there.”
So what are we to make of this? KU has an ascendant football program — cupcake opponents notwithstanding — but it’s not like the basketball program is slipping. Mount Oread has always been the traditional province of Naismith’s game and its players, but with an upstart, Mangino-led football program, it’s probably only natural that a turf war would erupt. But fights in public? Players being ushered into SUVs and whisked away? Emergency meetings with Self and Mangino? Pretty ridiculous, especially under the watchful eye of the even-keeled (and Uncle Festerian) Lew Perkins.
The local media is all atwitter over the event, and is chronicling the various local opinions. Can we expect suspensions in the matter? Elite athletic schools, of which KU is indisputably one, are loath to suspend the athletes who bring in the money, but in this case the pressure may come down from the new chancellor and old, rich donors who are sick of such juvenile behavior. Stay tuned, I guess.