Kansas State marching band makes fatal phallic error

Austin Hamm Sports Editor

There was a bit of tomfoolery on a football field in Kansas this past Saturday, but it wasn’t in Lawrence where the Jackrabbits were busy notching their first win over a FBS opponent, the Jayhawks. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Kan., the Kansas State Wildcats were busy thrashing USD, but even that wasn’t the big news of the day.

No, the big news came during the halftime performance of the Kansas State marching band, which is also referred to as the Pride, interestingly enough. In a space themed show that included the theme songs of “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” the K-State Pride had a planned formation that was meant to show the USS Enterprise crashing into the Kansas Jayhawk.

 Unfortunately, the noble Enterprise became a bit disfigured and ended up resembling a very large set of male genitalia headed for the beak of the Jayhawk. Naturally, the image blew up on social media. The university went into major damage control mode, and apologies were being issued left and right.

 “At Saturday’s home football opener Kansas State University fell short of its obligation to conduct itself in a consistent manner with the principles of sportsmanship,” said University President Kirk Schulz in a press release. “Good sportsmanship is part of the Wildcat way; we do not want to do anything that takes away from the tremendous efforts of our student athletes and the award-winning Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.”

 To make up for the mistake, K-State imposed a couple of self-sanctions. First was a $5,000 fine to be paid to the Big 12 from the Office of the President for violating sportsmanship rules. Next up, the band director Frank Tracz will be suspended from the Wildcats’ Nov. 28 game with the Jayhawks in Manhattan. And finally, the Office of Student Life and the Athletic Department must now approve all halftime show content.

 All this is well and good, but I have a couple points I want to bring up with this issue.

 First of all, I can’t believe nobody caught this potential disaster before it reached the field. I mean, look at the image above. I would hope that some college student who looked at that saw a phallic imagery and would have known the risk. I absolutely cannot believe that the halftime shows just got the requirement to get approval. They just trusted this massive unit of college kids to put on a show on Saturdays and at no point thought of the risks involved if a particular immature and driven individual got involved.

 Secondly, I think way too many people were way too offended by this. Yes, it’s not a great image. But the Enterprise is still there. It’s not like they purposefully formed genitals and launched them at their rival’s mascot. It was merely a joke that was sloppily executed and had some unanticipated consequences. Yet some people acted like the mix-up made them have “the talk” with their children five years early. It is disappointing how much people look for something to be offended by.

 Third, I just want to take a moment to send my condolences out to Tracz. The Pride of Wildcat Land is a very well run marching band, with long list of accolades. The man is good at his job, plain and simple. If you go onto the Internet, you’ll see they executed the Jayhawk formation to near perfection, but when the Enterprise began to move, some of the crisp edges rounded off and that’s where the issue arose. To his credit, Tracz issued his own apology, saying, “If I am guilty of anything, it would be the inability to teach the drill in a manner that these young people could have succeeded. I do apologize for the misinterpretation and I assure you that I meant absolutely no disrespect or malice toward the University of Kansas.”

 I know, for the most part, what happened in Manhattan doesn’t have a huge effect on us here in South Dakota, but, if nothing else in this column struck you, I would like you to take a minute to appreciate that while SDSU was winning their first game against an FBS team, the biggest news out of the USD game this weekend was all…