Documentary to show depth of Border War

Thursday, November 22, 2007 | 12:46 a.m. CST; updated 12:15 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Many MU students could be seeing themselves in a documentary about the rivalry between the Missouri Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks as early as next fall.

Erik Ashel and Stephen Spiegel, special projects producers at Metro Sports, were on campus two weeks ago interviewing students about their feelings about the longstanding rivalry. They have also talked to students on KU’s campus.

The documentary will have a focus on sports, but Ahsel says that it will explain the historical significance of the rivalry, which dates back to Civil War days.

“We’ve looked back at pre-Civil War days and bleeding Kansas and where all these feelings come from,” Ashel said. “Because I think a lot of people know that they hate Kansas or hate Missouri but maybe some people don’t know why. The more informed people might, but there might be people out there who don’t really understand where these feelings come from.”

In addition to talking to students from both schools, Ashel says he and Spiegel have spoken to historians from both states, key figures from the rivalry such as Norm Stewart and former KU football coach Don Fambrough, and residents of both states who had family that were affected by the actions of historical figures such as William Quantrill who is infamous for burning the city of Lawrence in 1863.

Ashel, who graduated from KU in 2000, says that the project has given him a different perspective on the rivalry.

“Growing up I had always learned the Kansas perspective of everything,” Ashel said. “William Quantrill burned down Lawrence, and all these Missourians came over here and did all these bad things, and I never really considered the other side, and the people whose feelings were affected by people who were termed Jayhawkers who came to their town and burned the city down and killed people. And now I’m able to see that and say, well neither side was right, and neither side was correct in the way they were doing things.”

Ashel says that he has always had a passion for the rivalry, and that this football season gave him the perfect opportunity to put the project into motion.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years, just kind of thinking in my mind how I’d want to do it,” Ashel said. “I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about it, but when I heard they were going to have this game at Arrowhead I just figured that if I was going to do it then now’s the time to do it and it’s turned out to be prophetic. It’s turned out to be the best decision because of the national ramifications and just the buzz around the game.”

Ashel expects the documentary to be about an hour long and will air sometime next fall on Metro Sports.

Metro Sports is owned by Time Warner Cable in Kansas City and its audience reaches as far as Lawrence, Kan. and St. Joseph, Mo. Although the station does not reach Columbia Ashel expects the documentary to be sold as a DVD in bookstores in both Columbia and Lawrence.

“We’ll definitely have a way for people to get a hold of it that’s for sure,” Ashel said.

Ashel also hopes that by seeing the documentary more people will understand the passions that lie behind it.

“I really love this rivalry,” he said, “and I want more people to understand why it’s so great.”

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