If yesterday's basketball game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Missouri Tigers is the last for awhile, the teams picked a great note to end on. I'm a Jayhawk. I was born in Kansas. My parents are from Kansas. My grandparents are from Kansas. Kansas is in my blood. So naturally, I blame Missouri for wrecking the rivalry and bolting to the SEC. I support Kansas' decision to decline Missouri's invitation to continue to play each year. Still, I would be lying if I said I won't miss the rivalry. The games are great. The gloating when the Jayhawks win is fun. But more than anything, I'll miss what these games mean to my family.
I realized it more than ever as I sat on my couch (more like paced around my living room) in Austin, Texas watching a game being played 700 miles to the north. My dad and I kept a running text conversation as the game progressed. My brother and I, who both suffered as Jayhawk fans attending high school in Missouri, did the same towards the end of the game. I used more "!!!!!!" in texts to him than ever before in my life. I thought of my uncle who was flying back to Kansas City from Orlando and would miss the entire game. I read a tweet from my cousin, studying abroad in Spain, who had watched the game on a pirated feed from a McDonald's in Portugal. I read tweets from my cousin-in-law in Oklahoma City who, though already a Kansas fan before entering the family, has caught the same Jayhawk fever the rest of my family enjoys. Literally, from across the country and around the globe my family was tuned into this game. And that is what I will miss - the connection to my family over a silly basketball game. Watching KU overcome a 19 point deficit to win yesterday, knowing my family was tuned in as well, made the geography that separates us seem not quite so vast. I'm blessed with a tight knit family, but KU-MU makes us tighter. And now that I live in Texas, I'll miss that extra bit of connection more than ever.
PS - Here's a good article about the rivalry written by Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski.