One of the more unusual stories to come out of the Big 12 on the opening weekend actually had nothing to do with football at all. It was a halftime performance by the Kansas State Marching Band that set social media sites ablaze and sparked nation-wide controversy.
If, by some small chance, you haven’t heard about the band’s halftime program, I’ll recap. The marching band performed a “space” themed halftime show in their opener against South Dakota on Saturday complete with music and scenes from Star Wars and Star Trek. At one point, half of the marching band formed a rival Kansas Jayhawk and the other half formed what band director Frank Tracz insists to be the famous Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.
However the spaceship came off looking, shall we say, a bit more phallic than a spacecraft should look. To make matters worse, the “Starship Enterprise” was depicted “crashing” into the face of the Jayhawk to depict a battle scene.
— Scott Pufahl (@pufizzle) September 6, 2015
Most thought it was a funny coincidence, but Big 12 officials and/or Kansas State administration didn’t take is so lightly. Kansas State president, Kurt Schultz, spoke of the incident saying,
“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.” Schultz continues, “We look forward to our upcoming athletic contests with the expectation of sportsmanlike conduct from the entire K-State Family.”
Tracz also got an earful from Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby who said,
“The actions of the marching band depicting the disintegration of a member institution’s mascot was inconsistent with the principles and expectations of the Big 12 Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy.” The commissioner wasn’t done, adding, “I appreciate the prompt actions of K-State President Kirk Schulz and Athletics Director John Currie in addressing this matter and accept the University’s self-imposed penalties.”
But it wasn’t just Big 12 and Kansas State officials wanting a piece of the band director. The Captain of the Starship Enterprise himself was also not laughing. An appalled William Shatner tweeted,
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) September 8, 2015
The “prompt actions” Commissioner Bowlsby is referring to consist of a $5,000 fine to be paid to the Big 12, a one-game suspension for band director Tracz, and a mandatory approval process Tracz will have to go through to get all band performances signed off on by university officials.
Tracz called the incident a “misinterpretation.”
“There was absolutely no intent to display anything other than the Enterprise and the Jayhawk in battle.” Tracz said the say after the game. He went on to say that he meant, “absolutely no disrespect or malice toward the University of Kansas.”
In the interests of full disclosure, my initial reaction to the video was laughter. A lot of it. Maybe I have an immature sense of humor or maybe I thought that, if the band director really was trying to poke fun at the Jayhawks, he found a clever little loophole in which to do it.
That said, I also didn’t have a child in the stands asking me why everybody was laughing so hard. To that end I completely understand people’s problem with it.