The Jayhawks men’s basketball team poses with a trophy to commemorate its national championship win during a pep rally at the University of Kansas on April 5. (Eric Thomas for Kansas Reflector)
Kansas Reflector welcomes opinion pieces from writers who share our goal of widening the conversation about how public policies affect the day-to-day lives of people throughout our state. Eric Thomas directs the Kansas Scholastic Press Association and teaches visual journalism and photojournalism at the University of Kansas.
When we think about “homecoming” at a college or university, we think about fall football games, Main Street parades and returning alumni.
College athletics provides another kind of “homecoming” for one lucky team in each sport: when they return from whatever neutral site to campus to celebrate their win. Professional sports, especially baseball and basketball, often end the season with the champion winning their final game in front of a home crowd. College sports seldom crown their champions at home.
So, on Tuesday, the NCCA champion Jayhawks got their homecoming.
The men’s basketball team returned to Lawrence and stood at the 50-yard line of the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium to hear fans react to their Monday night win over the Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina, 72-69, at the Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans.
The stadium was open for free to any fans, especially students from the university. They enjoyed a day of classes that — while not officially canceled by the university — were often “optional” or canceled by the instructor. Many of the players followed Bill Self’s turn at the microphone, thanking their fans for believing in them.
Of course, the players had danced under the confetti Monday night in New Orleans. But hoisting the trophy in Lawrence on Tuesday meant that their hometown fans wouldn’t wait until fall, when the Jayhawks will unfurl a sixth national championship banner, to celebrate.
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