Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Border War is Re-born


In this day and age, we in sports TV are often victims of political correctness. You can’t refer to a long pass as a “bomb,” a 3-point shooter as a “sniper” and certainly don’t call a long-standing rivalry “war.”

Except when Kansas and Missouri mix it up. That’s the “Border War” – both fan bases call it that. Local-based cable channel Metro Sports even put out a 2-hour documentary chronicling the history of the hatred called…(drumroll, please) “The Border War.”

I watched the entire 2-hour event, that was produced and created by Erik Ashel, and I’m convinced he’s the Ken Burns of Kansas City. His resume should go directly to Home Box Office.

What a lot of people don’t know about the feelings divided by the Missouri River is that they were born from actual war. Whichever side you were on from 1861-1863, there are still battle lines drawn today.

I had the pleasure of watching 15,000+ jam-pack Mizzou Arena on Monday night, in the biggest game in the brief history of that venue.

The Missourians, who had been doormats on the basketball side of the KU rivalry (There’s a reason the above KU T-shirt is displayed more prominently), were down-and-out again, trailing by 14 at the half. But the Tigers wouldn’t quit. They forced 27 Jayhawk turnovers, climbed all the way back in, and hit, effectively, two game-winners in the final minute.

Missouri is 21-4 and look to be headed toward a Top 10 ranking. Their next battery of tests will come in March, but well before the madness. They have a return engagement in Lawrence, Kansas on March 1. Then they welcome the #2 Oklahoma Sooners to Columbia on March 4.

Will Missouri fans dig into the history books to find a reason to hate Oklahoma? If they sweep Kansas, there won’t be any need.

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