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Choosing Fandom: Why be a Kansas State Wildcat?

As we unveil a new look, we tell some stories.

One good reason.
One good reason.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the refreshed Bring on the Cats! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

You’ll notice things are a bit different today here at the ol’ headquarters. It’s a day of change here at SB Nation, and in conjunction with that we’re all sharing our stories of how we became who we are — at least in terms of sports fandom.

For your benevolent despot, it was almost accidental. Growing up in Overland Park, like a lot of kids my age I wasn’t really a fan of any particular school. It was still a time when small schools got a lot of local attention; you were as likely to see Rockhurst basketball highlights during the sports segment on a Kansas City news broadcast as you were Mizzou or K-State. Kansas was not yet KANSAS; indeed, although the Jayhawks had reached loftier heights than K-State, it was still K-State with the broader and more consistently successful resume.

And football, well... if you think the current Royals/Chiefs/KU basketball/Nebraska football fan combo is horrible, let’s just say it was probably the most common setting in my youth.

Indeed, when it came time to start deciding where I was going to go to college, K-State wasn’t even truly on the radar. I, and my family, had bigger plans. Unfortunately, getting into an Ivy League school is a lot different than being able to afford to go to one, especially back before they’d give hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans to just about anyone.

If I wasn’t going to be able to afford a big-time private school, I saw no reason to go out-of-state to a state school. And as I looked around at my classmates to see where they were headed, it was a fairly easy decision to choose K-State over KU.

But being honest, even then I didn’t truly become EMAW4Lyfe until a fateful day in 1992. The year before, K-State had managed the unthinkable: a winning season. But they weren’t eligible for a bowl because two of their seven wins were against I-AA teams. Now, I was in Kansas City, listening on the radio as the Wildcats were in Norman to face those bullies in the crimson and cream.

They lost. But they only lost 16-14, on the road against one of college football’s blue bloods. Ultimately, the failure to win that game caused Bill Snyder’s first bowl appearance to be delayed a year, as the Wildcats finished 5-6 that season. But it was a sign of things to come, and heading into 1993 I went all-in.

Haven’t looked back since.

That’s my story. Later in the day, we’ll have stories from wildcat00 and AMS, and possibly other staff members. Before we go, a briefer bit from my old FEPO partner:

Luke Thompson, host of Bring on the PodCats: I could say I became EMAW because of Saturdays at then-KSU Stadium, or my glorious poster of Askia Jones soaring through the air with skis on, or because, like Bill Snyder says, everyone in Manhattan is just so gosh darned nice.

Really, though, I was EMAW before I knew what it meant thanks to my parents and my dad's parents, all of whom graduated from Kansas State and bleed purple. I can't imagine not supporting Kansas State athletics, even after I took a different path and attended journalism school at Missouri, where I wore purple in the student section more than once.

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