Each event alone was marginally notable, but occurring within 24 hours of one another was a Sports Apocalypse. Carolina & State will no longer play a home & home schedule in basketball…. and The MU-KU Border War will never again be fought in Columbia MO. Somewhere in that pantheon where gallant warriors spend eternity – Frank McGuire, Everett Case and William Quantrill are weeping….
I cannot escape my unique duality – dual citizenship in Tar Heel and Tiger Nations. First it was Christmas In Shreveport and now a scant few weeks later I am helpless to stop the insidious destruction of tradition by the ESPN-fueled monster.
Not dissimilar to the Commanche, the Cheyenne, the Sioux, and the Apache who once so proudly roamed the plains of what European invaders haughtily renamed “America”. “Leave us alone” they pleaded to the advancing hordes. “Let us hunt the buffalo, worship our gods, enjoy our centuries-old traditions as we have done in our fashion long before you arrived upon a distant shore.”
“Nay” sneered the invaders. “Your silly ways mean nothing to us. Your traditions are of no consequences. Your proud histories shall be trampled ‘neath the jackboots of the beast known as Progress. For WE have declared it so……”
Carolina & State shall meet but once a year upon the hardwood so saith Lord Swofford. The countdown begins to the day when Lord Swofford further declares that the neighboring rivals shall no longer meet annually upon the gridiron. …… The carnivorous beast called Progress devours all in its path.
Meanwhile 1,500 miles to the West in The Heartland….. similar lamentations are heard from Jayhawks and Tiger loyalists. For all the bitterness ‘tween Heels and Wuffs, the bonds of bitterness twixt Missouri and Kansas was born in the spilled blood of real battle.
Partisan historians will argue til Doomsday Plus One whether William Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson and Josey Wales pillaged and burned the town of Lawrence on August 21, 1863 for pure meanness or to avenge earlier pillaging of idyllic communities in Western Missouri by villainous Redlegs (aka “Jayhawkers”).
That debate will wage as long as “Did TA’s knee touch the Kenan turf?” ….. “Did Dudley Bradley mug Clyde The Glide?”
From those acts have emerged bitter rivalries passed along thru ensuing generations….. grandparent to parent to child ad infinitum.
“Daddy, why do we hate them so?” ….. “That my son is not for you to ponder. Simply know that Hate Them we do and Hate Them we always shall. So it is written. so it is and so always it will be.” Or so we thought.
From the Dome named for Dean to the Fieldhouse named for Phog…. it was the natural order of things. It was genetically entrenched.
The great herds of buffalo once stretched as far as the eye could see. The wisest shamans of the native nations could not fortell a day when the great herds would be dwindled down to several 100s on a ranch in Montana owned by Ted Turner.
The scribes of St Louis and Raleigh and Kansas City and Charlotte never conceived that a day would come that two adjacent tribes of fanatical partisans would be denied their historical right to annually renew their rivalry upon the courts and gridirons. Yeah verily that day has come to pass….. ‘tis a sad day for one and all.
Lord Swofford claims it is not “he” but the reality of mathematics that have brought this day upon us. Only so many games and only so many permutations and so it is.
In the Heartland too, dueling MU-KU administrators deflect accountability claiming “tis not we that created this sad day….. ‘tis they what’s done it.” Yea verily, ‘tis never we. ‘Tis always the ubiquitous “they”.
A deeper look reveals the true culprit.
As with the obliteration of the buffalo and the Indian tribes…. it is insatiable GREED that subjugates the weak to the demands of the strong.
In simpler times The Big Eight and the neighborly eight teams of the original Atlantic Coast Conference encountered no harsh mathematics in their arranging of games. Life was simple and rivalries fierce and all agreed….. “It was good.”
Victories were “The Best of Times” and Defeats “The Worst of Times” but assuredness of “The Next Time” buoyed bruised spirits keeping the flame of hope forever flickering within the respective human breasts.
And all agreed …… “It Was Good”.
For all of you reading this across the fruited plain from the shores of the Atlantic to the broad floodplains of the Mighty Mississippi….. from The Columns to The Old Well….. from The Brickyard to Mount Oread. Heavy is the burden each of you bear….. BUT:
I, BobLee, must bear the dual burden of both realities. I, and I alone, am qualified to sit upon that mourners’ bench with Frank McGuire and Ev Case and William Quantrill and…….
Hold it BobLee. Howsabout Ol’ Roy? Does he not share the dual weight of this sad burden?
OK, yeah I forgot about him. BobLee, Frank, Everett, William Quantrill…. and Roy.
Dean and Jerod and CB ?? OK, them too.