Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rock chalk

Did you know that President Obama filled out his NCAA March Madness bracket on national television?

Did you know he picked Kansas University (KU) to win the whole thing? And even more important, that he picked them to beat Kansas State (KSU or KState) in the Final Four?

If you’re not American, you might not have the faintest idea what I’m talking about. Even if you are, you might not have realized what a big deal this is. I certainly didn’t, until I moved to this part of the United States.

I’ve filled in NCAA brackets before. I even won the office pool once, years ago--because I got lucky and picked a few upsets by chance, not because I had any idea what I was doing. I’ve watched my share of March Madness games. But until I moved to Kansas, I didn’t fully understand what a big deal college basketball really is here.


I know all about crazy sports fans. I’m from Boston, after all, the home of Red Sox Nation. I got a firsthand look at English football fans when I lived in Oxford. I was in Milan when Italy got eliminated from the World Cup in 2002 (I’ve never seen such widespread desolation). And I learned about the dedication of AFL fans when I was living in Canberra.

Maybe it seems different to me because those are all professional teams. And Kansas City has two professional clubs—baseball’s Kansas City Royals and (American) football’s Chiefs. To put this in context: I’ve seen one person wearing a Chiefs jacket since I got here, and I’ve seen more Boston Red Sox stickers on local cars than anything for the Royals.

When it comes to colleges, on the other hand…rarely a day goes by that I don’t see someone wearing either KU or KSU gear. (Or sometimes both, if they’re unlucky enough to be the offspring of “A House Divided”, the term for a household where one parent went to KU and one to KSU.) People hang flags outside their houses, get vanity plates for their cars (yes, issued by the Kansas DMV), and wear all manner of stuff to show their loyalties. Even the real estate agent who’s helping us house hunt showed up one Saturday wearing a “Friends Don’t Let Friends Go to KState” t-shirt…and she’s from Missouri!

As I write this, we’re holed up at home while an all-day snowstorm makes a mockery of the official First Day of Spring. They’re not too expert at plowing the roads in Kansas, so we figure it’s the safest place to be. But for once it doesn’t matter too much, because no one else is on the roads either. They’re all holed up indoors too, watching KU take on Northern Iowa, followed shortly by KSU versus Brigham Young University.

I can’t help but feel invested in the outcomes of these games, if only so I don’t have to spend the remainder of March in an atmosphere of widespread gloom.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the headline, it refers to the famous chant of KU sports fans, “Rock chalk Jayhawk!” The Jayhawk is KU’s mascot, and a legend in its own right.


Some ideas for things to munch on when you’re parked in front of the TV watching (or avoiding watching) a major sporting event:

cheesy nibbles 
-          anytime salsa (no decent fresh tomatoes ‘round these parts) 
-          homemade crackers with some tasty cheese 
-          sundried tomato spread 
-          coconut clusters 
-          congo bars


SarahKate said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh NO! I stayed up super late here in the UK last night to watch the Kansas game. What a heartbreaker! I'm a Syracuse Uni grad myself, so I'm dressed in my Real Women Wear Orange t-shirt today. Go Orange! :)

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

SarahKate, I simply could not believe the outcome of the KU game--I watched the last minute with my mouth hanging open, saying, "This *can't* be happening!" Good luck to Syracuse!

Zippy365 said... Best Blogger Tips

"Rock chalk Jayhawk" is about the most random thing . . . kinda like chanting "BC sucks" at the BU vs. Wisconsin game. I really love geologists, though, so I've to respect the cheer.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Zip, I was pleased to find it had something to do with geologists--I just assumed they use it solely because it rhymes!

Although I think "BC sucks" is really appropriate on any occasion. :)

Suzanne Maus said... Best Blogger Tips

Welcome to the midwest! I've been in Buckeye/OSU (Columbus, OH) country for 5 years and I still can't get used to the fans going more nuts over an OSU game than I ever saw at a Pats game. Go figure!

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Suzanne! I can imagine--I almost fell out of the car when I saw the KU football stadium, but I bet OSU's is even more impressive!

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