When descending upon Lawrence for an athletic event, Allen Fieldhouse is the typical center of gravity, where basketball is the native language. However, David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium is a classic gem on the planet of college football. Championships may not have frequented the football trophy cases like they have on the hard wood, but the traditions that have built this program are all winners.
Pregame begins with the Hawk Walk. Fans gather in mass to greet the team as they motion toward “The Booth.” The Marching Jayhawks and beloved mascot, Big Jay, join in the parade of players that are cheered on by their supporters.
Once inside this classic arena, be prepared to take in the most haunting battle cry in the sport. The Rock Chalk Chant has an ominously intimidating tone when delivered in unison by thousands. Sung in one continuous note until the final syllable that drops a third, “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU” is repeated three times sending chills through the air. “Rock Chalk” is a reference to the chalky limestone found on and around campus. The Jayhawk is the unique mascot representing a combination of a bluejay and sparrow hawk, two birds known to be aggressive. Put together, it has become a widely known rallying call in college athletics.
That fervor continues to reverberate through the stadium after each Kansas score. “A Hot Time in the Old Town” is slowly played by the band as fans raise up their arms to sway them back and forth in a ritual known as “waving the wheat.” This crop is a large part of the Kansas identity, and the motioning arms symbolize swaying stalks of wheat. It’s a tradition that cements the unity of this incredible fan base.
Postgame revelry drifts toward Massachusetts Street (Mass Street), the main drag in Lawrence. Bars and restaurants illuminate the night as the Kansas faithful celebrate their love for the Jayhawks. It is the heartbeat of this lively college town.
Basketball may absorb most of the attention in Lawrence. But, this football program is one of the oldest in the country dating back to 1890. Over the years, the Jayhawks have created a remarkable culture on football Saturdays. It’s a credit to these fans who adore their Jayhawks and proudly display their spirit on gamedays.