By Kevin Kietzman
Kansas at Missouri this Saturday will be fun, a great appetizer before the Super Bowl. But let's not kid ourselves, these games are never as big or as important as Kansas City media likes to make them out to be.
These two basketball games always happen after football season and before the Royals play. What else are we supposed to do? Ok, let me share with you how this works. It's your obligation as a member of the Kansas City sports media to talk about how great this "rivalry" is and how interesting and compelling the matchup is going to be. Both are false.
If the rivalry really meant something special, which it doesn't, these schools wouldn't be breaking up. Period. Forget the money and the arguments about security. Forget petty comments that we "don't have an appetite" to play the other school. No, if this was a real rivalry, one born out of decades of football greatness, this wouldn't be happening. But it's a basketball rivalry. Sort of.
You see, there's a problem with calling it a basketball rivalry too, because Kansas doesn't have any rivals this side of Tobacco Road. KU has been punking Mizzou and K-State and anyone else that wants to compete with them in hoops for 25 years now. Before that, there were times other programs could actually claim, at least for periods of time, that they were better than KU. But nobody remembers those days. Calling this a rivalry is like saying the Royals and Yankees are rivals because there was an 8-year period, nearly 40 years ago, that the teams were actually rivals. I know, I'm not making any friends with these comments, but if you just step back and try to be a little objective, you'll see it's true.
I asked a dear friend that loves KU more than anything why he hates Mizzou and he said, "because it's Mizzou." There's no real reason. There's no, "well, remember those four straight years Mizzou won the league and won 4 in a row at Allen Fieldhouse? Those were the four years I was in school and it was awful."
Don't send me e-mails about the Civil War era. There were good people and really, really bad people on both sides of the state line. Things that happened were unspeakable and it was mostly between awful men that did not fight with honor or dignity. To even bring any of it up is really stupid and shows a lack of understanding of the difficult struggle and history of this great country. To compare it to anything sports related is borderline insane.
Heck, this rivalry can't even keep it's name. Border war, border battle, border showdown. How about this one: Border finale. Sure, it's silly and stupid that KU and MU aren't going to keep playing. But really smart people in really high places made this decision for all of us and they're clearly telling us that a lopsided college basketball rivalry isn't worth keeping.
Mizzou students are singing songs about Kentucky as their new rival, which is laughable.
KU fans are saying they're better off without Mizzou around. Also laughable.
Enjoy this game Saturday as it finally means something. But history will show, regardless of the outcome of these two regular season games, this was no rivalry at all. Something not worth fighting, or negotiating for. Just a lot of hype in one very small area of the country. Kansas City.
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