Thursday, March 10, 2005

Phog at 50

What can you say about KU's Allen Field House? It's 50 years old now, the anniversary being celebrated with yet another win over K-State. I think I went to every game that was played there while I was in college. I even went to the 1970 NCCA Mid-West Regional, which featured K-State rather than KU. If I lived near Lawrence, I'd do my best to get season tickets there. And I hope they never, ever, tear it down.

But, let's face it, it's a barn. Made out of steel and stone, but a barn nontheless. Not nearly as fancy as Maryland's Comcast Center, and not a shoebox like Duke's Cameron, not modernistic art like Indiana's Assembly Hall, and not some multipurpose monstrosity like Illinois' Assembly Hall.

But being a barn, it's the perfect place to play basketball. You're immediately on the set of Hoosiers. They should have a hayloft in the place to add to the atmosphere. Since it's a barn, it's open on the inside, and there isn't a bad seat in the place (and I've sat in just about all of them). Contrast this to my next stop on my Basketball-crazed 14-year College Tour, Indiana, where there are more seats with restricted sight-lines than at FedEx field.

Of course, the history of the place is a bit more intense than your ordinary barn. Built for Phog Allen, they named the street its sits on for James Naismith. In later years, they also named the court for Naismith, though if Roy had won a title they probably would have named something for him as well. Wilt played there, as well as Jo Jo White, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce and Kirk Hinrich. If there's a place with more basketball history attached to it over a longer period of time, I don't know about it.

Of course, when I was there we didn't call it "the Phog", at least not in everyday usage. And we didn't have to line up for tickets. If you were a basketball fan and a college student, you got a season pass as a God-given right, for maybe two bucks per game. You got to see players flying off the raised court, and chearleaders in short skirts and tight blouses. You got to know the Big 8 referees, like Jim Bain (who followed me to the Big 10 and later to the Atlantic 10 while I was at Rutgers). And, though you only chanted "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU" right after the Alma Mater, you still got to "wave the wheat" at the end of most games and when someone on the other team fouled out.

Oh, and we got the Budweiser Theme when Bud Stallworth made a great play. Much better than "The Mighty Quinn" for Buckner at IU.

I was looking for something suitably maudlin to end this thing, but I don't really have anything. I just hope that someday soon we'll see another championship banner hanging up in the rafters, and that there will be many generations of Jayhawks who remember the time they spent in the Phog.

1 comments:

Abby Taylor said...

I will not comment inappropriately about "waving the wheat."
I will not comment inappropriately about "waving the wheat."
I will not comment inappropriately about "waving the wheat."
I will not comment inappropriately about "waving the wheat."
I will not comment inappropriately about "waving the wheat."
I will not comment inappropriately about "waving the wheat."
I will not comment inappropriately about "waving the wheat."
I will not comment inappropriately about "waving the wheat."
There. I feel better.