The one with the powerful email from the Chiefs fan
The Kansas City Star
I’m not sure how many emails I received, but I know they came from literally all over the world — a few soldiers in the Middle East, one guy from Southeast Asia — with all different thoughts on the Chiefs. The one that hit me the best, though, came from a young professional in the area who articulated what a lot of you have been saying.
Her name is Sarah, and I asked her permission to post her email here.*)
I wanted send you a couple thoughts I have about the current state of the two professional franchises in Kansas City. I really appreciate your articles over the past couple of days, I think they speak to the large sense of discontent in our area. I have had a deep sense of dread over the past couple of days, of which I spoke to my dad, sister, boyfriend about. We are all huge fans of the Chiefs and Royals, and have had long discussions of the states of our teams. I come from a little bit of a different perspective than most fans. When my sister I were growing up, we spent a lot of our time with our Dad. Our quality time with included playing basketball and wiffle ball outside, watching Chiefs and the Royals, and reading the sports section together in the morning. It has been a huge part of my life ever since, and what is going on with my two professional sports franchises recently has been extremely disheartening. I whole heartedly agree with what you had to say about the current Chiefs situation, but I am afraid that there is and even deeper problem. Kansas City is losing an entire generation a fans, from which I am unsure we can ever recover.
I had a moment on Monday. My boyfriend Greg had been talking about the Royals’ loss on Friday night (which was it’s own mini-nightmare) and I actually caught myself thinking, “who cares?” For the first time since I can remember, I was honestly disinterested about a sports conversation that we were having. I have found recently that the only time I have listen to games were when I was at Greg’s house. Now, at home, I’d rather watch whatever TLC has on. The 12 game losing streak in the second week of this season was mind-numbing. I’ve found myself going stretches of weeks this season not even knowing who they are playing, and only being mildly interested in what is going on. This is honestly the first time I can say that since I started seriously paying attention to baseball early on in high school.
On top of that, I knew the Chiefs were going to be terrible this season. I just knew it. Nothing happened in this offseason for me to think that anything would change from our 0-4 start last season. Putting together the way Weiss left a couple years ago, Peyton not even VISITING the Chiefs, Cassel coming back to steer the ship, Haley leaving in a huff, and with ZERO happening at the QB position at all—I just KNEW we were going to be terrible, and it is all because of the front office. Changes at the GM and ownership positions move at a pace much slower than the rest of football (unlike a special teams player that can be cut at the end of practice). Because of this, I think we are going to be terrible for at least the next 4-5 years.
After the football game on Sunday, we went and played wiffle ball with our friends, which I really like doing and we’ve had a great time with all summer. At one point I looked around realized we were all in a bad mood. And then it struck me— why does any of this matter? And, even more importantly, I feel like I’ve been caring less and less over the past 8 months about the Royals and the Chiefs. I can feel myself losing interest and feeling that used to come with sports. I simply and truthfully don’t get as much enjoyment out of it as I used to.
Another very large interest in my life is current events, policy, and world news. Outside of work, if I’m on the computer I spend most of the time reading about news and politics more than anything else. Second to that would be sports. For the past decade I have read SI.com, ESPN.com, cbssports, and the Kansas City sports page religiously. I read articles this week in the Star (only to validate what I was thinking about yesterday)…but this was the first Monday morning that I can remember that I opened up Monday Morning QB by Peter King, and immediately closed it. Because I honestly felt like it was an absolute waste of my time. I have never felt that before. For as much as I care about “real world” issues, I have never felt that sports was a trivial enterprise. In fact, a lot of the time it has been a wonderful escape from increasingly partisan politics, from the recession news, and escalating sectarian violence we see everywhere. It used to be a refuge. That feeling is slowly trickling away.
This is extremely painful. I love my Chiefs and Royals more than anything. I own more sports paraphernalia than is really reasonable for my yearly salary. When I was broke working for basically nothing right out of college, I still found $250 to buy Chiefs season tickets, and somehow scraped the money together once in a while for the crazy parking fees. I have spent more hours in the complex parking lot than I could ever count. And when I see David Glass and Clark Hunt reinvest almost nothing in their respective franchises, when the Chiefs are $20+ million under the salary cap, when we CONTINUALLY put our trust in Matt Cassel’s underwhelming talent, when the Royals have been mismanaged, underpaid, understaffed for years, and perpetually sign players either too young or too old— I think to myself…I just can’t care anymore. If all they are doing is thinking about their bottom line, then I am going to start thinking about mine. No more Chiefs/Royals games until something drastic is done. Because I simply don’t have the money or energy to care about something I am simply not getting enjoyment from anymore. But as a broke 20 something, that’s my cost/benefit analysis. I’m just done.
The other day, Greg got an awesome gift for me online. He ordered the 1985 World Series on DVD. We are currently in the middle of game 4. I have learned a lot from these games— that George Brett’s batting stance is a lot different than I thought it was. That Al Michaels 26 years ago sounds like current Al Michaels swallowed a bunch of helium. Bret Saberhagen’s mustache was really, really creepy in 1985. That I could say Buddy Biachalana’s name 80 times a day and never get tired of it. But I’ve also learned that Kansas City was an amazing baseball town. And it would be an amazing football town, too, if given the chance. We’ve been waiting for so long— I’ve seen more rebuilding years than productive years from these two teams. As much fun as it’s been to see 80’s sports fashion and watch Willie Wilson play in the outfield, seeing these games on DVD has honestly made me really sad. People from the coasts talk about how we have small market teams. But I know that Kansas City could be a sports mecca. We have more passion for our teams than 18 spoiled New Yorkers have combined for the Yankees or Jets. That even though I turned 7 two days after the last Chiefs playoff win, and never seen a meaningful October in baseball in my life, I have seen more games than any of my Packers or Bears friends have combined. But I honestly feel like that time has come to a close. I’m backing away from sports until these teams show me they can really do something. Because I’m tired, sad, frustrated, and, to put it bluntly, kind of just over it. Sure, I’ll watch the games. But I know my heart (and my dollars) aren’t in it anymore.
I can’t be the only one. My passion comes from the stories and lore passed to me by my father, and like any other oral tradition, they are waning. I graduated college in 2008, right into a recession. People my age will be more careful and attentive about where our time and dollars go than the generation before us, and, as most things in life, the investment of time and money will be carefully calculated against what we get out of the experience. And honestly, right now, I feel like being on the other side of sports right now. My indifference will put dollars in the bank and give me back my Sundays. I have had wonderful, unforgettable times with my teams, I feel right now that I am changing and moving on. With a heavy heart, and with many of my peers around me doing the same, I cannot support these teams anymore in the way I used to. They are simply asking too much.
I know a little bit about organizational planning and financial planning. I work for a non-profit where I write budgets and make strategic plans for a living. And I want these two owners to know they they are driving these franchises into the ground. Without investing in future stake holders, they will not be able to turn profits down the road. I honestly believe they are on the precipice right now. They could go one way by making sure they secure their fanbase, by signing players that get fans excited, loosening the grip on the “message” a little bit, and show they care a little less about their bottom line by investing more into more able personnel. Or, they could continue what they are doing now, which is bleed these franchises dry, and cut and run 15 years down the road when they are no longer profitable and sell the teams. I know this is a dooms day scenario, but right now I am not sure if I see things happening any other way.
Hopefully things change. Right now, I am not sure I believe they ever will. I have been waiting 20 years for something good to happen, and despite a glimpse of a good team in the Royals in 2003, and a couple brief playoff appearances for the Chiefs, there isn’t a whole lot of positives I see coming down the road. I am generally an optimistic person, but right now I honestly couldn’t have less faith.
I am not sure if you’ll read this, but it was good to get out there. Thanks for everything you do, I have really enjoyed watching you take the reins over the past couple of years. Sorry this was extremely long winded…but I guess that’s how most break up letters go.