How to convert bar patrons into Jayhawk fans

Posted on Mar 10, 2014 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

We’re always scouring the internets for all things Jayhawk, and any time we find a great story that highlights our alumni as well as their school spirit, we like to share it with the world. Tanner Willbanks, c’10, recently wrote a story on his blog about how four alumni of the University of Kansas converted the patrons of a bar in Lincoln, Neb., into fans over the course of a basketball game. Specifically, the KU vs. Oklahoma State game on Saturday, Jan. 18. An excerpt of his post is shared here with permission.

George, Liz and I are all graduates of the University of Kansas and that is where we all met, so we are all fans of the team. However, we knew that we were in Lincoln, a town that had once had a bit of a rivalry with us, back in the days when they were members of the Big 12, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect as we watched the game in the sparsely crowded bar.

Shortly after the tip, hearing us loudly rooting for the Jayhawks in our little corner, we were informed that another patron, who was sitting at the corner of the bar quietly watching the same game, was also an alum. This led to us sharing a few hearty cheers back and forth with him, while, at this early juncture of the game, the rest of the bar was, at best, disinterested in the loud trio in the corner or the quieter man at the bar. That, however, would not last.

For those of you who had the pleasure of watching the Oklahoma State vs. KU game from this past Saturday, you know that it was one hell of a matchup, which came down to the final possession to see who ended up victorious. Well, in O’Rourke’s Tavern in Lincoln, Nebraska, it was also a magical game that allowed for cultural, political, and geographical lines to be forgotten as the bar slowly converted, at least for that one afternoon, into a Jayhawk bar.

As time passed in the game and the score steadily grew closer (the Jayhawks just couldn’t hold the lead steady), more and more of the patrons would stop by our table on their way to the restroom to root for our boys in Crimson and Blue and give us a hearty high-five or a handshake. Some would shout out “Rock Chalk” for what I’m sure was the first time in their lives. And, when the mighty Jayhawks of Kansas proved victorious at the final buzzer, we were surrounded by many of the other patrons of the bar, celebrating the victory of our alma mater with almost as much fervor as we were ourselves.

It was a magical day in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was a day when all differences were put aside in the interest of cheering on the Jayhawks. It was a day that I will remember for many years to come. And it was a day that guarantees that I will return to O’Rourke’s every single time I visit Lincoln for the rest of my life.

Many thanks to Tanner for sharing his fun story! Click here to read the full post on his blog,

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