Thankful for a Certain Thanksgiving Rivalry

Nov. 25, 2007

Dear Jayhawk Fans:

America’s sports media have come to describe the Thanksgiving holiday period as “rivalry” week. There are the great intra- and interstate rivalries like Texas and Texas A&M, Alabama and Auburn, Michigan and Ohio State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and, of course, our own ‘Border Showdown” with the University of Missouri, a game that was suddenly thrust further into the national spotlight by our respective outstanding seasons and high BCS rankings.

With the 1890 birth of college football at the two institutions, the die was naturally cast for eventual sports competition. In fact, the very next year Missouri and Kansas met for the first time (in Kansas City and the Jayhawks won!) and thus initiated a rivalry of momentous proportions that now has spanned three centuries.

That historic rivalry was recently played out again with all its intensity in Kansas City during a cold November night at Arrowhead Stadium, though with a much less favorable return than that first meeting 116 years ago.

It doesn’t lessen the sting of watching our Kansas Jayhawks lose for the first time this football season – and it may seem odd to you to bring it up at this time – but there is much to be thankful for in this rivalry. Where some other series rivalries often seem driven by bitterness or even hate, we believe the Kansas Jayhawk-Missouri Tiger rivalry essentially is one driven by school and state pride, mutual respect and, admittedly, “bragging rights.”

There is no clearer evidence of our belief that “respect” plays a key role in making this competition uniquely what it is today than in what we all see each and every day – well, every day except that very special one in November. Across the two states and our nation, Jayhawks and Tigers live together, work together and socialize together for 364 days of the year. It is solely on game day that we all polarize into that healthy competitive fierceness we have come to call the Border Showdown.

And even that day has its exceptions. At the most recent game, it was not uncommon to see Jayhawks and Tigers sharing amenities (and trash talk – it wouldn’t be Border Showdown without it) amid the acres of tailgate parties outside Arrowhead Stadium. But the so-called concern for fans physical safety that some expressed prior to the Nov. 22 game just was not warranted. Jayhawk and Tiger fans are just not that way. The emotional intensive is focused on the game, not on each other. When Border Showdown time rolls around, a good time generally is had by all, though admittedly the Missouri fans rightfully own more of that good time today.

That said, we know we speak for all Jayhawks everywhere when we say: we are counting down the days til Border Showdown 08! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

On another subject, but one that seems appropriate for this period of Thanksgiving, we would like Jayhawks everywhere to take some time to appreciate what an incredible football season Coach Mark Mangino, his staff and players have given us so far, and how much it has meant for all of us. It has been an electrifying fall season on campus and across Jayhawk Nation. And it is far from over. A major bowl game – and more great plays and outstanding memories – are in our future. Thanks, Jayhawk fans, for the support of our football team, and indeed for all our teams. We look forward to seeing many of you at our next football game – a bowl game – in the very near future.


Lew Perkins
Director of Athletics