If we’re talking about the city of Lawrence and the KU Jayhawks basketball team, plenty. I live in Lawrence now and even though I still spend a ton of time in Kansas City, this town and this university isn’t all that hard to figure out.
I’ve got three words to describe how things are run here: Good Old Boy.
I’m talking about the powers that be in the business world and at the University of Kansas. Between the two of them, they’ve pretty much got things sewn up and get what they want with little to no resistance from the town folk.
The average everyday citizen of Lawrence has it pretty sweet. The town is quaint and charming and the quality of life, for the most part, is excellent. It’s a great place to raise a family and owing to the university and the town’s proximity to Kansas City, the cultural amenities are ample.
That said, the citizens of this town are asleep at the wheel with no leadership.
So as long as the quality of life continues and KU basketball keeps bringing home the bacon, most people here couldn’t care less if a handful or two of well-placed businessmen control things behind the scenes. And at times, in front of the scenes.
In part because the local newspaper – the Lawrence Journal World – is basically a Boss Hawg operation.
Oh sure, it takes its shots at some of the more obviously bogus goings on, like the recently railroaded Rock Chalk Park rec center in West Lawrence. But only on the surface did the Journal World call out the business players for playing way fast and way loose while sewing up a too-good-to-be-true deals for themselves. The newspaper stopped just short of connecting a few really obvious, significant dots that might have halted the bogusness in its tracks.
Because when push comes to shove, publisher Dolph Simons family that runs the news show in town wouldn’t dare to drop the hammer on another leading local family and KU for an obvious conflict of interest that remains unreported to this day.
That’s just not the way the game is played here.
If that sounds a little vague, it’s because I plan on telling some of those stories, raising some of those questions in the months to come.
Let’s get back to how small-minded and petty the journalism in this town can be. In spite of KU’s respected journalism school.
Today’s editorial in the Journal World – almost assuredly penned or dictated by publisher Simons – is an attaboy for basketball coach Bill Self ‘s statement earlier in the week, reiterating that his team still has no intention of playing Missouri.
“KU Resolve,” reads the overwrought headline. “Kansas University is right to shun any effort to include the Missouri Tigers in its basketball or football schedule.”
An editorial stance championing pettiness at the highest level? I’m not even sure a high school journalist would stoop to that level of triviality in a published editorial.
“Congrats to Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self for sticking to his decision not to schedule basketball games between the KU Jayhawks and the Missouri Tigers.”
Since when did petty paybacks become something to be admired?
Look, Missouri did what it needed to do and thought best. The sky was falling on the Big 12 and because of the school’s geographic location and superior football program, MU had a chance to escape what appeared at the time to be impending doom and catch on with a bigger, more secure conference – the SEC.
Nebraska, Texas A&M and Colorado did the same, where’s the hate there?
And don’t think for one minute that had the shoe been on the other foot, KU wouldn’t have leapt at the chance to join the SEC and leave Missouri behind. Unfortunately, the opposite was true, nobody really wanted KU.
The pundits speculated and feared that because KU was only a basketball school it would have a hard time getting on with conferences like the Big 10 and Pac 12.
Bill Self was thisclose to being a man without a country.
Was that Missouri’s fault? No. Did Missouri engineer the mess the Big 12 found itself in? No. Did Missouri vow to disengage from its longtime rival and never play them again? No.
Missouri took the high road.
Now everything’s hunky dory again in the Big 12 and Self and Kansas are still acting like spoiled children.
While the Journal World cheers them on!
Try this out for pettiness: “Various business interests in Kansas City raised phony reasons the rivalry should be continued, but it was obvious they wanted a game in Kansas City only for the business and tax revenue rather than for the tradition.”
Hold it right there…
So now readers are to believe that Journal World publisher Dolph Simons is a mindreader and none of the Missouri or Kansas fans in KC – or basketball and football fans in general – give a crap about a historic rivalry, they just wanna make a few extra bucks?
Sure, some politicians and the operators of Sprint Center and Arrowhead Stadium would love to get their clingy paws on a few extra million bucks, but they’re in the vast minority.
The vast majority of KU and MU fans just want to see the games played.
You know, for the games sake. For bragging rights and for tradition. Hey, I’m from Kansas City and I’m in daily touch with a wide variety of people there and I don’t know anybody who’s running around talking about how much money is being lost or might be gained. They just want to see the games played.
Look, if the Journal World or Dolph Simons is so paranoid about Kansas City putting one over on KU and Lawrence, restart the series and play the games home and away here and in Columbia. Where they should be played.
But don’t make up shit about ulterior motives you don’t have the reporting to back up. Arguments that are obviously so simple-minded and wrong-headed that only the most petty of KU fans would buy into them.
Kinda like KU did when North Carolina coach Roy Williams jilted them years ago to return to his alma mater. It wasn’t until everybody in Lawrence and KU realized they were doing just fine post Roy that they backed off the hating.
Well, KU basketball and Bill Self are doing just fine, it’s time to back off the Missouri hating and do the right thing. The thing that the Journal World accused Kansas City of not doing, and that’s standing up for an important sports tradition.