II have written some of this briefly before, but I thought I would go ahead and write the unabridged version of my history as a Mizzou fan.
A little back story first. My parents were both born and raised in Kansas City, KS. My parents moved to Columbia when my dad took a job there right out of college. Since the move to Columbia my Dad has become big Mizzou fan as well and has been ever since.
My first memories of Mizzou really start in the 80's when I was 7-8 years old. On game days, football or basketball, we listened to the game on the radio and most basketball games weren't televised like they are now. The games that were on TV seemed to be mostly conference games that were big games. My very first time actually seeing a game in person was a football game in '81 against Oklahoma. We won! I was beyond excited as an 8 year old kid. My first basketball game was during the '81-'82 season and what a fun year that was. My dad was given tickets for a home game against Colorado four rows behind the Colorado bench. We were ranked #1 in the country and destroyed the Buffs. My dad was glad that we won but a bit miffed because the Colorado coach Tom Apke, shouted obscenities throughout the entire game and we were close enough to hear him clearly.
In the 80's Columbia was different during football games than it is now. Even though the team was bad the town would virtually close down during a home game. The local stores were closed and the roads void of traffic during the game. People traveled in to see the games but not like they do now. I went to many football games and the strange thing about the team being bad is that it actually increased my fandom. The team was bad so not a lot of people really paid attention to them. Because of this we had all kinds of access to the players as kids. We would gather right at the exit to the field near the ramp to the old locker room to ask for wrist bands and towels as the players went by. We would cheer them and give high fives and they always responded back even during a loss. We roamed the stadium nearly everywhere except the press box. We would slide down the hill or find souvenir cups and toss them back and forth like a football. Sometimes we would collect huge stacks of those plastic cups people had tossed away, but my mom never let me keep them all. During my junior high years my best friend's dad obtained the contract to clean the stadium after each home game. He hired me and my friends to pick up the garbage after the game. It took 2 days. We were let into the game free and then picked up the trash as soon as everyone left. I have walked every row and every flight of stairs in Memorial Stadium. On Sunday when we were done we would go out on the field and play football and see how long of a field goal we could kick. I was in heaven.
Basketball was similar. My dad bought season tickets when I was 13 in 1986 and I didn't miss a single home game until the 96-97 season. On some Saturdays we would go over to Hearnes Center and strangely enough it was always open. We would go in and find the practice court and play a game. We would also go down to the field house and run around the track mess around on the wrestling mats. To this day I have no idea why the university didn't have an issue with a bunch of junior high kids roaming the halls and messing around. I loved walking around looking at all the old trophies in the cases along the walls.
In high school it came down to the time when I needed to choose a university. I was a soccer player and I had several letters in hand from NAIA schools to play soccer including locally at Columbia College. It never really occurred to me to go anywhere but Mizzou. I have never regretted my decision to pass on college soccer to go to Mizzou. In an oddly Mizzou way I feel lucky to have been in attendance at some of the worst Mizzou moments and proud to apart of their best.
Bully for Ol' Mizzou!