OPINION: Myers’ letter on sportsmanship like a parent scolding children

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K-State fans move to "Wabash Cannonball" during the basketball game between K-State and KU in Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 6, 2017. (File Photo by Meg Shearer | The Collegian)

On Wednesday, President Richard Myers called out Kansas State students and fans who chanted obscenities at the Kansas men’s basketball team during the Feb. 6 game in Manhattan.

In his letter, Myers called the vulgar chant a “surprise.” That seems a little ridiculous, considering it is not a new issue.

It took the president of the university over a week to call out the student section. He didn’t do so until “friends across the nation reached out,” and at that point it became “personally embarrassing.”

This has all the feelings of a parent whose child misbehaved, and the parent did nothing until other adults spoke up, even though the parent knew about the issue. Now, the parent is scolding the children.

It is not that Myers was wrong to make the statement; it’s far from it — he should have made the statement before the KU game. Perhaps after the chant was done on Jan. 14 during the game against then-No. 1 Baylor.

Don’t call Myers a “snowflake” or any other similar term for criticizing a vulgar chant that tarnishes the reputation of K-State during a nationally-televised basketball game. The man is a retired Air Force general and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No doubt he has heard worse.

In reality, though, this statement will do nothing. Yes, Myers probably felt forced to say something publicly due to the pressure his friends put on him. But it will do nothing as far as convincing students to stop chanting obscenities at their rival.

Scolding doesn’t work on college students. Don’t blame him for trying, though.

The university and K-State Athletics have tried in the past to eliminate the chant. It didn’t work. They tried removing “Sandstorm” from the playlist. That didn’t work either, considering the chant moved to other songs, like the “Wabash Cannonball.”

Even if he tried, head football coach Bill Snyder could not convince students to drop the chant. Neither could senior forward D.J. Johnson or any member of the men’s basketball team.

There’s something about college students that make them do the opposite of what people in positions of authority say to do. And that’s not new to this generation.

The chant was out of the news cycle, and now it is back in the national media because Myers brought it up. It will only make students want to do it more.

Fortunately for Myers and K-State, the chant was not present at Wednesday’s loss in Bramlage Coliseum to Iowa State. Neither was about half the student section, which looked bare, even for a weeknight game.

Myers, who was the top military adviser to President George W. Bush during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, faces a new quagmire in dealing with the vulgar chant.

When children don’t respond positively to scolding, punishment would seem a likely next step.

Whether punishment were kicking out students who participated in the chant, moving the student section or something else entirely, it would not work.

No amount of scolding, punishment, pleading from administrators or changing of songs will make the chant go away.

There is one other thing that has not been tried: winning, and winning consistently. That would allow for a chant that any number of K-State fans would rather chant at KU: “Scoreboard.”

Jason Tidd is a senior in journalism. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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Jason Tidd graduated from Kansas State University's Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. He was the spring 2017 editor-in-chief, fall 2016 news editor and spring 2016 assistant news editor. While at K-State, Jason played baritone in the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.