I was watching the number two Kansas Jayhawks play the number five Kansas State Wildcats Wednesday night, when someone I had just met, who was watching the game with no rooting interest, asked which team was wearing purple.
I still don't know if he was joking or not, because I haven't been able to grasp the fact an adult living in the state of Kansas had to ask that question. I didn't even move to the Sunflower State until 1996, but it didn't take me long to figure out the difference between Crimson and Blue and Powercat Purple.
I'm not faulting the guy for anything. He obviosuly just didn't care about college basketball. I mean, most of the East Coast thinks only Duke and North Carolina play on the hardwood. However, I just assumed any adult living in the state would know that because each institution is held in such high regard by most Kansans. Even if I've met someone who was not a fan, they were friends with, related to or married to some who bled Crimson and Blue or purple.
After playing it calm, and deciding not to laugh at a guy who (a) was a client of a friend of mine, (b) someone who looked like he could beat me up, and (c) clearly a nice guy, I got to thinking about the histoy of my alma mater, the only school in the state -- The University of Kansas. It has become apparent my love for the school has grown since graduating. When I moved to Overland Park as a pimply, afraid to talk to girls sophomore from the East Coast, I liked KU about as much as I currently like Missouri. Rhode Island and Arizona became my favorite teams. Had I moved here eight years later, I surely would have Bradley and Bucknell T-shirts hanging in my closet. However, location and cheap tuition ultimatley led to me becoming a Jayhawk.
Even as a freshman at the school, during the days of Eric Chenowith, I was still rooting for my first love, the Virginia Cavaliers. But quickly I found KU basketball, and Lawrence, do something to you. The town, the school, the people and most of all the basketball team, seep into your skin, your blood without you even noticing. The first time you cut yourself and bleed blue, it seems natural -- until you realize it isn't. The first time you attend a basketball game, it seems like any other game -- until you realize it's almost magical. And when you graduate and move on, you think it's just a transition in your life like any other -- then you find out, the Crimsona and Blue never really leave you.
Ask Sherron Collins.
In a recent interview he said it's hard to tell the difference between being in his hometown of Chicago or being in Lawrence because it seems like the same thing. I would venture to say when the most prolific winner in KU history moves on, he will come to find out that Lawrence has become his home. He's already said KU basketball has turned his life around 180 degrees.
I know it at least turned my rooting interest around in the same manner. I still keep an eye on my Cavaliers, but the Jayhawks always will be in my blood. Wishing more than anything to be at the game, I was still able to watch KU defeat rival K-State by 17 to claim its record sixth-straight and 53rd overall conference title with a good friend and his nice, but clueless, client at a local bar.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk!