Sandstorm returns — but do students understand the significance?

A fan holds up a "Play Sandstorm" sign against Kansas on Jan. 17. The song was played during the next game at Bramlage Coliseum against Texas Tech on Jan. 21 for the first time this season. (Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

At the Kansas State basketball game against Texas Tech University this past Saturday, Darude’s “Sandstorm” was played for the first time this season. It was met with both screams and confused faces as older students and alumni cheered wildly for the song and younger students just tried to figure out what was going on.

The student body’s Sandstorm privileges were revoked during K-State alumnus Ethan Goff’s freshman year basketball season, Goff said. Goff, who graduated in December 2022, said the removal was due to the hateful chant towards the University of Kansas that accompanied the song. 

“Obviously we had a really good team in the Big 12 that year, so all the games were fun. They still had the chant going on then. I mean, being a freshman on campus, you were just trying to feel cool and fit in, so you went along with it,” Goff said. “It definitely got the entire student section rowdy and got the place really loud. My parents would watch the game on TV, text me and say they could hear it loud and clear.”

Goff said he is relieved and appreciative that the student body is more focused on K-State success rather than concerning itself with other universities, which is reflected in the way students conduct themselves at the games.

“I think it was evident when we played Texas Tech Saturday that the chant was thrown out the window,” Goff said. “I was at the game and I didn’t hear anyone around me use anything vulgar towards KU. It was definitely just K-S-U the entire time the song was played.”

Not every ticket holder was as thrilled or relieved to hear Sandstorm as Goff. Katie Free, junior in nutritional sciences, said she was honestly confused by the uproar when Sandstorm played.

“I kind of just went along with the crowd,” Free said. “I had no context.”

Free said because she had never heard the song at a basketball game, she didn’t understand the significance. But she also said other students might better understand because of their backgrounds as K-State fans, a background she doesn’t share.

“I also don’t come from a K-State-loving family; I come from a Nebraska Cornhuskers family, so I hadn’t gone to K-State games until I was in college,” Free said.

There hasn’t been much buzz surrounding the song, Free said. In fact, she said discussions about our current basketball rankings overshadow Sandstorm’s return.

“In the group chats I’m in, people are sending screenshots of where we stand in comparison to teams nationally,” Free said. “I haven’t heard a lot about Sandstorm, just more about our rankings in general.”

Grace Hartman, senior in civil engineering, said she is disappointed underclassmen don’t grasp the importance of Sandstorm like seniors do.

“I think it’s crazy that they don’t understand the significance of it,” Hartman said. “Sandstorm was such a big part of my underclassmen years, but hopefully they soon will understand the significance now that it’s back. It’s — in a way — a tradition at basketball games.” 

Both Goff and Hartman said they hope Sandstorm is here to stay. 

“Go back and listen to a couple of Coach Tang’s postgame conferences, especially after KU, the Texas Tech game and even a few before those,” Goff said. “He kind of talks about showing love and character and being bought into the program and not trying to be worried about other universities.”

Goff said he urges students to take head men’s basketball coach Jerome Tang’s message of love and good character to heart.