The Rowdy One

Saturday, September 23, 2006

KU's family-unfriendly policy requires ticket even for babies

University of Kansas football has joined the big time. The program is alongside perennial top football programs such as Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas ... sadly for KU fans like me, it's only on par with the Big 12's football elite in that it charges for babies to attend its football games.

See that KU clad baby to the right? If he wants to attend a KU football game, it'll cost his parents an extra $35.

The absurd policy isn't new (it's 3-4 years old), only the publicity is. A front page story in Lawrence's local paper spawned an Associated Press piece that was then picked up by media outlets across the country, including ESPN's home page.

KU's athletic department says it's all the baby gear -- the diapers, bottles, toys, etc. -- that can take up extra seats that led to the policy. Now, in a packed house in Norman, Okla., or Lincoln, Neb., that is almost a legitimate excuse. But for a university that only has visions of a packed house, it seems to be offering just one more excuse to stay away.

It's professional team up the road, the Kansas City Chiefs, pack its 78,000+ house every regular season game. Yet, somehow, that franchise finds a way to permit fans under three to attend at no cost.

Years ago before the policy was enacted, my wife and I brought our then 15-month old boy to a KU football game for free in one of those back-breaking, baby-strapped-to-your-body devices. If the ticket office had asked me to pay for a seat for a child that wasn't going to use one, I think I would have taken a pass on attending. Not a great outcome for a university that could use all the fans it can gather.

On the Lawrence Journal World's opinion page, one clever KU fan suggests tongue-in-cheek that perhaps KU should begin charging pregnant women -- and perhaps all women -- extra to drive added revenue.

"We are all too aware of how much space pregnant women require to move about and, obviously, they could conceivably block the view of our most treasured Jayhawk game," he writes. "In fact, perhaps we should just charge all women double for the price of a football ticket, as many of them may be unaware of their current pregnancy status."

For the record, fans under 2 can get in free to see Big 12 Conference rivals Missouri Tigers or Kansas State Wildcats. Letting KU's top rivals best it in family-friendliness should be enough by itself to overturn such a lame policy.

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