It's the age old argument. Which comes first the chicken or the egg? A few years back Kansas football catapulted to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl win. From a fan perspective the growth had been fairly slow and steady as Mark Mangino built up the program but in recent years the gripe about fan support is getting louder and louder.
Fans debate it amongst themselves. There are the football fans attacking the "basketball only" fans. The older crowd hounding the students for not sticking it out while the students hound on the "old folks" for not being loud. All the while we're sitting by waiting on the rest of the world to determine our fate in the new conference landscape.
Earlier this week Jordan Webb was asked specifically about fan support and this was his response.
"It's tough on us because we're beating a Big 12 opponent at halftime then we come out of the locker room and see everybody walk out, it's kind of like well thanks for the support. It's something we can't focus on. We have to try and play our game no matter what. It definitely hurts when you're playing well and there isn't much support."
- Jordan Webb
So which is it? Do the fans NEED to support the team through thick and thin in order to build a winner or should the program give fans a reason to sit in the seats? It's a tough call because there are obviously arguments to be made for both viewpoints.
Personally I do feel like the players deserve the support. I don't think any of them are setting out to lose by 70 points or turn in a poor effort. Just like many of us, they CHOSE to attend the University of Kansas and I think that is an important thing to remember.
At the same time it's unrealistic to expect people to show up week after week and watch a team get dismantled. Trust me, I've been on a team that was destroyed week in and week out and the band had more parents in the stands than we did fans. That's just the way it is. The funny thing is how quickly it can turn.
Rest assured there are a BOATLOAD of Kansas Jayhawk fans out there and it could all come back in a heartbeat and I'll put that on the staff to provide that glimmer of hope. No they don't throw a block, catch the ball or make a tackle but they are instrumental in fostering an environment that breeds success and pushes players to improve. If you need proof, look at the basketball team. That program has been written off as "rebuilding" since 2007-2008. Never missed a beat, never lost a Big 12 title at that. Different scenario on the gridiron but I think the premise is the same.
It's probably too early to tell if we're on the right track here, but hats off to the players that are getting it done and putting in the work. They deserve our support and I personally hope they take less note of the empty seats and understand that a lot factors into that. They are still Jayhawks and as up, down and sideways as sports fans can be we're always in the corner with our team. I'll step off my mini unimportant soapbox now but by my estimation that means that the chicken comes first...right?