OPINION: K-State, KU rivalry something to overcome

Nicholas Cady, senior mass communications, wore a KU shirt as part of a personal experience assignment. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

Over the course of the fall 2016 semester, the pride Kansas State is known for has been alive and in full swing.

Several months back, my classmates and I were challenged with a personal experience assignment in which we were to live a day or a week masquerading as something vastly different from our regular lives.

Some tried veganism, diet experiments and even temporary political alignment changes. The assignment happened to take place during K-State’s Homecoming week, and in the hopes of getting some interesting reactions from my fellow students, I chose to “support” a different team.

Back during that eventful October week, from Anderson Avenue to Claflin Road, all that could be seen on campus was a brilliant celebration of purple pride. Then there was me, a 6-foot-8-inch University of Kansas regalia-sporting lunatic lurking around campus, looking for trouble.

When I initially donned the KU garb (which was fitting and comfortable I might add), an electric blue the school’s logo with red Jayhawk flair, I envisioned the day ending in a crime scene.

“A KU student was found battered and unconscious in the gutters of Aggieville, attacked by Homecoming week celebrants,” I imagined a news report might say, only later to identify the “KU student” as Nick Cady, a foolish K-State student experimenting with people’s feeling, and possibly getting “what he was asking for” in lieu of a fair court ruling. “What were you wearing?” the judge might ask.

As that day of my KU fashion experiment progressed, I went about expecting to be ridiculed and bullied, at some points I even threw myself at groups of spirited-looking K-State students, including a group of children on a campus field trip, but nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Where were all the bullies? I thought K-Staters found great fun in trashing KU fans.

Eventually, I thought about how maybe I was the one being the bully. I was the instigator and was really only receiving confused, if not disappointed looks with no verbal comment from random spectators. Had K-State’s attitude toward KU changed?

By the end of that experimental day on campus, I was starting to feel like I’d shown up to a party I wasn’t invited to, and I was there solely to rain on everyone’s Homecoming parade. I was expecting conflict, debate and ridicule, but received only tolerance tinged at the edges with subtle death stares.

Because I wasn’t greeted with the level of animosity I originally expected to encounter, I proposed to my class that we use this seemingly peaceful time as an opportunity to end the bitterness between K-State and KU.

After all, the experiment was originally inspired by the cringeworthy, unnecessary KU slanders that students and staff frequently employ in conversation.

“A school down the river that wears blue that will remain unnamed” is a common one we’ve all heard, and that’s tame by slander standards. Consider spending an evening in Johnny Kaw’s to experience the oh-so-clever, KU-inspired lyrical edition to Darude’s “Sandstorm,” which is played on an almost nightly basis.

When I catch wind of these digs, all I want to tell people is to lighten up. School pride doesn’t need to be powered by the degradation of another school. Rivalries can be fun in a healthy, competitive spirit, but there are still too many students who actually believe that schools like KU somehow insult the legacy of the Wildcats’ alma mater.

My question for those who believe the conspiracies and argue that we should be enemies with KU and its affiliates: Do the generations of KU students, faculty and athletes truly have some sort of evil influence on your life? You know, one that’s not completely made up or based in paranoia?

No, they don’t. Believe it or not, they are normal people like you and me, only unlike the majority of “normal people” in the United States, they are much more closely related to us as intimate Kansas relatives.

For some reason, much of our K-State student body chooses to find reasons to hate KU while realistically, our two schools could potentially embrace one another and get along together better than any other kind of university pairing. Instead of pitting ourselves against KU, we could unite and become the greatest university power couple in American history.

We’re so, so close to Lawrence yet our own students from both K-State and KU choose to find ways to drive us apart, farther down the river. Our union could be a brotherhood, a dynamic duo, a true Midwestern force of friendship.

Now that the semester is ending, I’ve concluded that it’s a great idea to support rival teams, especially our eastern cousin, KU. There’s no reason our schools can’t be best friends. Let’s make it our K-State New Year’s resolution for 2017. No more rivalry scandals, embarrassment or harassment. Maybe wearing a KU shirt on K-State’s campus every now and then isn’t a bad idea after all — I tested the waters and came out alive.