A Salty Salute
Somewhere shortly before the first quarter ended Saturday, I found myself standing near the mouth of the players' tunnel flanked on both sides by clusters of MU fans and KU fans. Both sides heckled each other with words and gestures while a security guard in a bright yellow jacket repeatedly warned each to keep it clean.
Understanding the sometimes unwavering hatred displayed by either side for their border foes I went to document the exchange and quickly noticed the one-finger salute coming from one particular Mizzou loyalist and pointed back toward the KU side. As I pulled my camera up to document the exchange, that lone finger was staring me dead in the eyes along with the gentleman it was attached to.
What struck me as odd is that whenever cameras and media attention come into play, more often than not bad habits will cease and rather abruptly at that as not to be recorded or "caught in the act." However, this MU fan steadfastly hung the middle finger in my face as if allotting me enough time to finish the job just in case I didn't catch it the first time around.
Now, if my memory serves me correctly, I've covered, at the very least, one game in every Big 12 arena or stadium. Throughout my experience as a photojournalist tossed into the pit between the action and the fans, there haven't been too many expletives I haven't heard rifled over my shoulders at student athletes and within earshot of children no less. I've even seen a dead chicken land onto the court in recent years.
As far as MU fans go, sure they're probably up there among some of the more cantankerous but I've seen plenty of spiteful fans in the other gyms and stadiums too. This exchange, however, was a first for me and I can't really say I'm sore one bit.
So, as I brought the camera down from my face I was already laughing. What else are you gonna do when you're getting hit with a middle finger from a guy who looks to be 30 years your senior and in front of thousands.
My message to this fan? Got it. Thanks.