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Unlikely teamwork in saving ‘war’ rivalry

Tuesday, October 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:53 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Foes by tradition, some students at MU and the University of Kansas are joining forces to oppose their schools’ decision to drop the name “Border War” from a sponsored athletic rivalry.

The schools issued a joint announcement Oct. 4 saying the 2-year-old trophy contest, decided by Jayhawk-Tiger competition in common sports during an academic year, would be renamed the “Border Showdown.”

The competition is sponsored by Midwest Ford Dealers, which has agreed to sponsor it through the 2006-07 year.

Athletic directors of both universities, Lew Perkins of Kansas and Mike Alden of Missouri, said applying the term “war” to college sports was inappropriate in the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11 and insensitive as U.S. troops take part in combat abroad.

To the contrary, said some students at each school — it’s the wrong thing to do because the milder “Border Showdown,” unlike “Border War,” ignores Missouri-Kansas history.

Dennis Chanay, a student senator at Kansas, introduced a resolution Oct. 20 urging the universities to retain “Border War.” Calling the change “blatantly over the top and far too politically correct,” the resolution noted that the rivalry was informally nicknamed the “Border War” during other military conflicts.

In Columbia, student senator Matt Sokoloff heard of the effort and called Chanay on Friday to say many Missouri students also were unhappy about the change.

“Obviously the University of Missouri has always had a huge interest in tradition,” said Sokoloff, a sophomore. “There isn’t anything more traditional than the Border War. It’s what we’ve called it since Civil War times.”

Sokoloff plans to introduce a resolution in Missouri’s Student Senate similar to the measure filed by Chanay, and the two students said they would work together to lobby their schools.

“It’s kind of ironic that we would work together to preserve our animosity toward each other,” Chanay said.

Unlike other college rivalries referred to as wars, the Missouri-Kansas competition actually traces its roots to armed conflict. In the 1860s, tensions between Missouri, a slave state, and Kansas, a free state, led to bloody clashes along the border.

News accounts from earliest football games between the two schools recount fights breaking out in the crowd between descendants of Union and Confederate soldiers.


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