You Can Bet Your Face Paint We’re Awesome Fans
We’re walking down to Massachusetts Street after the game, hooting and hollering at the cars crawling by with horns blaring, people hanging out the windows holding KU flags and screaming “Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Final Four, baby, FINAL FOUR!” The closer we get to Mass., the more backed up the cars are with the start of the jam only visible by the distant red tail lights winking at us through the miserable wet mist. The police have blocked off the north end of Mass. to keep impromptu paraders from getting run over by overzealous celebrating drivers.
There are over a thousand of us—maybe even two thousand—crammed onto the street from sidewalk to sidewalk, marching slowly in a spontaneous gathering. But there is nothing solemn about this procession. You better believe we’re all shrieking at the top of our lungs, people hanging on cars and lamp poles and even out open windows of some of the stores. A lot of guys have decided shirts are unnecessary, and a small gathering of our wonderful KU Band is playing the Fight Song. Some bright guys are towing a keg around, filling up cups and, in some cases, pitchers.
I get hefted onto the shoulders of one of my Battenfeld buddies to record the scene on video. Now that I’m about four feet above the heads and shoulders of everyone else (Adam is rather tall), I can see what seems to be an endless, ever-changing throng of hysterically happy people parading past the few cars who have managed to sneak onto Mass. to blare their horns. We’re probably breaking about 15 city codes and God knows there’s underage drinking going on right and left—the kid suspended head-first over the keg in the middle of the street can’t be a day over 19, if that—but the cops standing around are just making sure no one gets trampled, and in most cases are grinning manically at our victory besides. It’s a great day to be a KU student.
Of course, there are rules to follow if you want to be a supportive fan of KU sports. It’s not all screaming and hollering down to Mass. Street when we win the Orange Bowl or make it to the Final Four—even if we do both in one year. There are important decrees and traditions, set forth by generations of University of Kansas students before us. And woe betide the freshman who stupidly asks why everyone is carrying that day’s copy of the Kansan into a basketball game or what exactly the third word is in our kickoff chant. Following these simple guidelines will have you set for football and basketball season at ye olde school o’ crimson an’ blue.
- If you are not a fan of KU football or basketball, either pick another school to go to, or guard your shame like it’s death to let anyone know about it. That you think organized sports are a pointless waste of time and money is one opinion no one here wants to hear about.
- If the other team has either crimson or blue as one of their school colors, you better not wear that color anywhere anyone can see it on game day. We just might take it into our heads that you’re a spy for the enemy, and your mum will wonder why she hasn’t heard from her little pumpkin in two weeks.
- During the game, if you’re in the student section you don’t sit down. Let me repeat: YOU DO NOT SIT DOWN. Our team is out there, busting their butts and playing their hearts out to win. You’re going to show your respect for their hard work by standing, and, preferably, you’re going to contribute your voice to the hundreds and thousands of others creating a roar that makes the stands shake.
- On the subject of game-day dress: wearing school colors and beads gives you a “C” grade. Wearing school colors and beads and painting your face crimson or blue rates a “B.” Doing all that, plus donning a crimson or blue Mohawk, dressing in body paint and getting a row of your buddies to do the same? That gets you an “A-.” There is no “A+” unless you’re wearing a jersey and are down on the court or field tossing a ball around and scoring your school some points.
At football games…
- Wave the wheat whenever we score a touchdown or get a field goal. After a touchdown, it is also very appropriate to take out your keys and shake them at the opposing school—after all, they might as well go home now to forgo the shame of seeing their team lose to a school with a mascot that doesn’t actually exist.
- A very high-minded tradition that has recently come under a lot of national scrutiny involves our complimentary chant to the other team whenever we kickoff. It involves something to the tune of, “Rip their fucking heads off.” Personally, I can’t see why an entire student section yelling this chant in unison can be seen as unsportsmanlike in any way, shape, or form—we’re just bringing a little bit of reality to the game. After all, what commander of an army ever told his troops to “play nicely” with his foes?
- Near the end of the game, when it becomes undoubtedly apparent that we will again triumph, we’ll begin the Rock Chalk Chant, loud enough that it echoes eerily through the stadium. We are commending our team for their wonderful victory, and saying goodbye to yet another glorious game.
At basketball games…
- Bring a copy of the University Daily Kansan with you to the game. While they technically only allow one section of the newspaper per person, it’s best to try to bring as many with you as possible. When the players for the opposing team are announced, pretend to read it with the UDK basketball poster (complete with insults directed at that day’s foe) facing outwards.
- Before the game, being the dedicated fan that you are, you should have torn one section of the newspaper into small bits and put them into another section you’ve folded into a cone. As our wonderfully talented players are introduced, throw handfuls of the paper up into the air—silent fireworks to celebrate the coming of another victory.
- If anyone airballs, immediately yell, “AIRBALL!” For the next five to ten minutes (depending on how bad it was), yell, “AIRBALL!” whenever that player touches the ball. It’s very important to make sure he doesn’t forget that he’s embarrassed himself, and to make sure everyone else remembers that he’s embarrassed himself, too. After all, people can be forgetful in the heat of the moment, so the fans must take on this important duty.
- While the other team shoots free throws, it is the sacred duty of fans behind the basket to distract the shooter. This can be accomplished in several ways—for instance, by holding both arms to the left, then, just as he is about to throw, arcing them quickly to the right. You and the other fans have been so still for the past several moments that this rapid change disturbs him and causes him to feel uneasy—what might you do next? So he misses the shot.
While there are several more minor traditions for both football and basketball that it is your duty as a fan to follow, there is one colossal decree it is important to remember at all times: you are a fan among fans. As a fan among fans, it is your duty to support your players as a cohesive unit. You yell when other fans yell, you groan at a bad call by the ref when they groan at a bad call by the ref. Despite the rainy wet and the fact that you just bought expensive new tennis shoes, you join all the other fans on Mass. to celebrate going to the Final Four. The other fans are your team, and together, you are the support and life behind your players. After all, one fan obsessively screaming on a player is a creepy stalker. Hundreds, thousands of fans screaming together, hoping together—sometimes even crying together? That’s the KU student section, united on one common thought: “If we lose, we’re going to rip their fucking heads off.”