KU vs. KState vs. Division II

February 1, 2010 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment

Saturday night, Matt and I met with some of our oldest and dearest friends to watch the KU vs. KState showdown at Ameristar casino in KC. Some of our friends went to KU, and some to KState – ensuring an exciting night of basketball watching. There were even divided family allegiances. Myself, I was rooting for KU as I always do, but especially now that I’m married. My husband loves, LOVES KU basketball and is not a fan of KState. If purple had been victorious, the whole night would have been a disaster.

The whole episode – cheering with hundreds of strangers in a bar for a nationally televised team, hundreds of miles away from the actual universities involved, was surreal. My husband and I both went to Pittsburg State University, a medium-sized division II school in the “real” Pittsburg – Pittsburg, KS. And we loved every minute of it. The Gorillas have been a national football powerhouse (well, OK – this year not included. But we’re going to pretend this football season never happened) for decades, and they finished second in the nation one of the years we were at school there. I now work for Northwest Missouri State University, home of the 2009 National Champion Bearcat football team. (And national champion cheerleading team too, for that matter) Bearcat games are also a blast – at least, until they play Pitt State. Divided allegiances make for awkward games of unsure cheering. Bearcat games, like Gorilla games, involve jampacked, state of the art stadiums with thousands of cheering fans and an up-close view of the game.

Having been to division I school football and basketball games, and division II, I’m not afraid to say: There is nothing on earth as fun as a division II athletic event. First of all, all students get in free. Yes, free. I love the democratic nature of division II athletics. Students pay thousands of dollars to attend their colleges – they should be entitled to go to sporting events free. Those who aren’t current students get in for nominal cost – usually under $10. This means you have all kinds of members of the community pouring into the stands for games, kids in tow. People who would never be able to afford tickets to a division I game.

Plus, the smaller, more intimate size means you always have a great view of the action. You can take your picture with the mascots at every game. You are surrounded by some of your closest friends. You can afford to attend every game in a season. You know some or many of the players personally. Former players don’t go pro as often, they stick around the area and contribute back to the region.

Division II programs, even Division II powerhouse programs, are not as rich as Division I programs. Most of the players have received no scholarship money. Many have come from small high schools nearby. Graduation rates are much higher than they are in Division I schools, too. These kids are playing because they want to be a Bearcat, they want to be a Gorilla – they’re not (in most cases) playing for the chance to go pro.

Here’s what I also love. When I was at Pitt State, there was no more heated football rival than Northwest Missouri State University. And now, here I am, an ardent Pitt State football fan AND an ardent Northwest Bearcat fan. Can you say that about many KU and KStaters?

So yes, it’s so much fun to get together in crowded bars with lots of strangers and cheer for a national, bandwagon team. And your friends may look at you funny when you talk about your love of division II sports. They may not know your mascot, or what color your team is. But it doesn’t matter. Come game time, you and 8,000 of your closest friends march into the stadium for an experience that money can’t buy.

I guess this is a weird tie-in with a craft blog, but in a way it isn’t. There is craft in a beautifully orchestrated football play, and nothing more heartfelt than the passion of division II alums.

Coworkers with the Northwest 2009 National Championship trophy. Photo by Darren Whitley.

Gus Gorilla

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Entry filed under: Division II, football, University life. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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About me

My name is Mallory Murray and I have a love of all things oldfashioned. I'm a modern day feminist who also adores Martha Stewart. Read on for my sewing, crochet, cooking, gardening, quilting and crafting projects. I am the chief officer of marketing and design at Northwest Missouri State University, so expect the occasional random post about marketing/universities/design. I dream of a hobby farm with baby doll sheep, a sheep dog, a small flock of chickens, and other animals to be announced. I'm also a Pitt State grad, football lover, HGTV addict and obsessed with the color aqua.

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