Capturing the mood as well as anyone on this historic day was the student who came dressed as John Brown.
via Missouri, Kansas end 100-year-old rivalry ABC 17 News, Weather And Sports.
This overblown bit of sportswriting is from a feature The Associated Press moved Saturday to mark the last game between Kansas and Missouri in college basketball. (Kansas won, not that it mattered.)
The Last Moments of John Brown, by Thomas Hovenden (1882-84), Metropolitan Museum of Art
I observe that John Brown is not exactly an appropriate symbol for a college sports rivalry, even if it does date to 1907. Brown was a catalyzing figure in the Civil War, to be sure, but not a necessary one — and certainly not an admirable one. It is often forgotten that Brown orchestrated an appalling murder/mutilation of five men in Franklin County, Kan., in 1856, before the farce he fomented at Harpers Ferry. This is perhaps because of the fawning view of his legacy, most simply portrayed in post-Civil War paintings of his greeting black children on the way to the gallows. (Two outstanding examples of these can now be seen in New York, by the way; see thumbnails.)
John Brown's Blessing, by Thomas Satterwhite Noble (1867), New York Historical Society
Brown’s role in American history is more properly appreciated as something along the lines of “first domestic terrorist” or some such, rather than fiery abolitionist, even if you add other adjectives like obstinate, bumbling or murderous. Consequently, he captures the mood of a Kansas-Missouri basketball game only if you allow that Jayhawks and Tigers fans are moral deviants.
Which is fine with me.