© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jayhawks And Tigers Love To Hate One Another Across State Line

Lisa Rodriguez

There was no shortage of Mizzou hate Dec. 13  when the University of Kansas played the University of Utah at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Thousands of Kansas fans gathered, ironically in Missouri, to watch the Jayhawks play.

Kansas and Missouri haven’t played one another since 2012, when Missouri left the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference.

But just mention the University of Missouri to a die-hard Jayhawk and you’ll get a heated response. To fans, it’s more than just a sports rivalry. It's part of their identities.

RELATED: The Civil War Origins of the Kansas Jayhawk and the Missouri Tiger

“Mizzou is awful," said Braden Hawk, who attended the KU-Utah game. "I’m glad they’re in the SEC, but I do wish they were in the Big 12 so we could pound them a few more times." 

He vows to hate Mizzou forever because it’s his duty as a Jayhawk.

Joanie Weaver, of Shawnee, Kan., falls on the opposite side of the rivalry, though she got there a little unconventionally.

She grew up in Kansas City, Mo., just two blocks east of the state line, in a staunchly KU family. When it came time to choose a college, however, she decided against her parents’ alma mater and headed to MU.

“Maybe it was a little bit of a rebel in me,” Weaver said.

She met her husband at MU and they settled down — in Kansas.

“We found ourselves in the minority, definitely, being Missouri fans in Kansas,” Weaver said. 

Credit Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR
Joanie Weaver sits in her Missouri Tiger-themed basement in Shawnee, Kan. She grew up in Kansas City, Mo., in a KU family, and in an ironic twist, raised a Mizzou family in Kansas.

Weaver is a die-hard Tiger. All three of her children went to Mizzou. Her basement is painted black and gold, decorated with tiger-striped furniture and covered in MU memorabilia.    

“A lot of our friends don’t even like to go into our basement,” she laughs.

If the Weaver house is a Tiger den, then Evan and Kari Deude’s house in Prairie Village, Kan., is what, in football, you would call a neutral zone.

That is because Evan is a lifelong MU fan and Kari is a faithful KU fan. Neither imagined they would end up married to the enemy.

“I think until I met my husband I truly believed that everyone who went to Mizzou was a bad person. He probably would say the same about KU,” Kari said.

Credit Courtesy photo / Kari Deude
Kari Deude
Evan and Kari Deude never thought they would end up marrying a fan of the opposite team. They had KU and MU cakes at their wedding.

 Evan nodded in agreement.

They said it is more than a sports rivalry, it’s part of their identities. For Evan, picking up and moving to Kansas was hard, and when his daughter Nora was born in Kansas, it was another difficult blow.

“Going back to deciding where to live, it’s a huge decision what side of the state line you’re going to choose," Evan said.

"It was a huge flag in the ground for Kari, that Nora was born in Kansas. Or when I had to get my Kansas driver’s license, that was another moment in my life that was very very painful."

Weaver understands, her family went through it as well.

“It’s a part of who we are, it’s a pride thing,” Weaver said.

Though the state line divides Kansas and Missouri fans, they are united on at least one thing. They love to hate one another and now that they don’t play each other anymore, you could even say they miss each another.

Weaver describes finding out that Arkansas was to be Missouri’s new rival in the SEC.

“We have known forever that our Kansas rivalry was historic, and then all of a sudden we leave for the SEC and we are told that our rival is Arkansas. It just is an announcement rather than something that has grown over the years, steeped in tradition and culture. It’s hard to get excited about it,” Weaver said.

So although Tigers and Jayhawks may never get along, in a way, they belong together. Weaver, Kari, and Evan Deude all agree that the rivalry between the schools is important and they hope it continues.

“For our daughter and for future generations, it’s fun to keep it alive. It’s fun to have the rivalry,” Kari said.

Evan and Kari Deude may agree on that, but whether their daughter Nora will grow up to be a Tiger or a Jayhawk is a different story.  

This look at Missouri and Kansas is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders  and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences on the state line with KCUR.

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.