Congratulations to the ‘Cats for making it to the championship game of the NCAA basketball tournament!!!
Here at the Writing Center, we’re pretty keen on words and their meanings and origins. In the spirit of sportsmanship and getting to know an opponent, we looked into the true definition of the Kansas mascot.
Did you ever wonder what kind of bird a Jayhawk is? Is it a blue jay? Is it a hawk? It’s neither. It’s not even a bird. Here, from Wikipedia:
The term became part of the lexicon of the Missouri-Kansas border in about 1858, during the Kansas territorial period. The term was used to describe militant bands nominally associated with the free-state cause. One early Kansas history contained this succinct characterization of the jayhawkers:
“Confederated at first for defense against pro-slavery outrages, but ultimately falling more or less completely into the vocation of robbers and assassins, they have received the name — whatever its origin may be — of jayhawkers.”
In short, Jawhawks were mercenary fighters for the Union side during and before the Civil War, part of the story behind the term “bleeding Kansas”.
So, if you’re working on a poster or banner or some kind of game related smack talk, keep in mind it’s not really a bird that our Cats are up against…it’s a band of mercenaries who show up in the middle of the night to burn a house down.
Our best wishes to the Cats!!! And students, stay safe out there, let’s not burn any houses down here in Lexington.