An expanded version of my post over at "You're Looking Live..." with regard to the machinations surrounding the Big 12 Conference....
A Big Story here in the Big Town has been the drama around the athletic conference of our big state universities in Missouri and Kansas. For those who don't follow, a conference is a group of schools that get together for athletic events. They had come around naturally, grouped generally by geography and regional culture. Nowadays conferences are more about money and TV rights. This all started with one Big XII school making overtures to another conference. Then two schools, Nebraska and Colorado left for the Pacific 10 conference. So it came down to what the University of Texas in Austin would do. If they left for the Pac 10, as was rumored, they would take Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with them, and that would be the end of the Big XII. So, the Big XII's fate revolved around the decisions that the folks at the University of Texas would make. They jumped their Tuesday regents meeting by a day and began declaring on Monday that they would stay in the conference. Apparently, they are being fed mo'money--more TV money and money from Colorado and Nebraska. They are happy enough for now to stay.
Why is all this important enough to have had many in this community holding their collective breath? I mean really. It's nice that your schools are in a conference that gives them lots of exposure and helps with money for the athletic program as a whole and helps with recruiting students and such. I'm happy that the exposure will continue for the worthy state institutions of Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. But my biggest concern, and I am not alone in this, is not as a sports fan but as a resident of a medium sized city in the plains of America. That is why all of this is very important and got the coverage it did. College athletics are a big part of our identity in Kansas City, a big part of our investments, and a big donor to our economy. I still feel pretty vunerable that this could come apart at any minute. Remember, this all started with rumors of Missouri leaving the conference. Rumors got this crazy ball rolling.
We are secure for now--the Big XII Conference will remain intact. What can we do to insure college sports continuing presence in our city? What can we do to insure that our really cool rivals still play each other--or are economics going to undo 100 years of athletic history? We can't bask long in this victory. We must shore up our proverbial levies. I'm pretty sure there will be another hurricane.