Few things in Kansas are as important as basketball. After all, Lawrence is the birthplace of college basketball. In 1989, Dr. James Naismith came to the University of Kansas, just six years after writing the official rules for the sport of basketball, and began the University of Kansas men’s basketball team. (Fun Fact: Naismith is the only KU basketball coach to have a losing record, 55-60).
One of the students he coached was Forrest “Phog” Allen. Allen would go on to become a basketball legend; he was called the Father of Basketball Coaching. He would go on to coach the KU team for 39 years and lead the team to two Helms National Championships (two seasons in a row) and an NCAA Championship. He also coached the US basketball team in the 1952 Summer Olympics, helping the US bring home the gold.
The Allen Fieldhouse is named for the illustrious couch and a banner hanging in the rafters of the Fieldhouse reads: "Pay heed all who enter, beware of the Phog." Of course, KU honors Dr. Naismith as well. The actual playing court is named the James Naismith Court. Since the opening of Allen Fieldhouse in 1955, the Jayhawks have a home record of 651-106, that means they have won 86% of their home games in the Allen Fieldhouse!
Allen Fieldhouse is known for its dominating team and also for its noise! This year, ESPN The Magazine named Allen Fieldhouse the loudest college basketball arena in the country. And they are not kidding around. If you’ve ever been to a KU basketball game at the Allen Fieldhouse, you know that the KU students don’t mess around. They cheer, they jeer, they scream, they throw confetti – it is an experience that will leave your throat raw and your ears ringing. There is nowhere else in the country you can experience true basketball fervor like you can at the Allen Fieldhouse.
The Allen Fieldhouse also has some rich traditions. Before the start of every game, it is tradition to sing the University of Kansas alma mater "Crimson and the Blue" and then the Rock Chalk Chant. (“Rock Chalk Jayhawk! KU!”) During the song, students wrap their arms around their neighbors and sway. It is really a moment of community when the college students come together to support their teams.
But the traditions don’t stop with a few songs and chants. While the opposing team is being introduced, the members of the student section take out a copy of the student paper, The University Daily Kansan, and wave the paper in front of their faces, pretending to be reading it instead of paying attention to the other team (they also have a tendency to shake the pages, drowning out the names of the other players with the sounds of russeling paper). After the opponents are introduced, a short film is shown about the history and the accomplishments of Kansas basketball. If that doesn’t make you proud to be a Kansan, then you really don’t have a heart. Then as the Jayhawks are introduced, the students rip up their newspapers and throw the confetti pieces of paper in the air. But they still hold on to a bit of the confetti, they throw the rest when KU scores their first basket.
If you are passing through Kansas, you have to stop at the Allen Fieldhouse. It’s simply the one thing you have to do. And if you are lucky enough to score tickets to a home basketball game, remember: "Pay heed all who enter, beware of the Phog."
Total Trip Time: 10 minutes
Total Travel Distance: 2.5 miles
Soundtrack: "Crimson and the Blue"