So here's a strange little story: Apparently, at some point in the past few seasons, Kansas students have adopted a rather strange little alteration to the "Star Spangled Banner" rendition that precedes every Jayhawks home game. Instead of singing "and the home of the brave," some students have been singing "home of the Chiefs," oftentimes while using their hands to feign a tomahawk.
I'll admit it. At first, this left me deeply confused. The Chiefs? Why the Chiefs? Is there some distant historic connection I'm not seeing? (If there is, I'm sure the fine folks in Osceola, Mo., will let us know.) Thankfully, the Lawrence Journal-World's Gary Bedore explained the situation Friday. Basically, it's the same chant fans of the Kansas City Chiefs perform during their national anthem. Given the high rate of Kansas City kids that go to Lawrence for their secondary education, perhaps it's no surprise -- and not so strange after all -- that a Chiefs tradition would bleed its way into Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas coach Bill Self was also confused, but as Bedore writes, he asked his wife what the students were saying. Once she told him, he didn't much like the idea:
“I said, ‘I didn’t know they were saying that. I couldn’t tell.’ I don’t think that’s good. I don’t think it’s anything we should be proud about as students to carry that on, because I don’t see the place for it when you are honoring your country,” Self added.
“That’s one tradition that in my opinion certainly we could do without,” Self said. “I think it’d be more respectful toward the anthem and what that stands for to go ahead and use the actual words to it than putting in their own. I think they should stick to Francis Scott Key’s words. I think that would be more appropriate.”
That's probably fair. The "home of the X" formulation is not entirely novel, nor is it particularly offensive, at least not to my sensibilities. (I realize your mileage may vary.) But "home of the Chiefs" at a Kansas game? That just seems sort of weird. Allen Fieldhouse isn't the home of the Chiefs, you darned crazy college students! Gee whiz! What will you wacky kids think of next?
The main reason I mention this in the first place, though, is because this is where things get interesting. Kansas travels to Texas Saturday, but it's back home on Monday night against Texas A&M. You'd assume, once word of Self's disapproval spreads, that the students will cease the Chief chant for good. Or will they, like sullen teenagers with outdated iPods, rebel against their program's current patriarch? Will the Chief-itized national anthem persist? And if it does, will Self take matters into his own hands? Fireworks -- or at least some mild comedy -- could ensue.