We all know who Chris Sullentrop is, right? Oh, no? Well, he’s just some jackass that grew up in KC but moved to NYC for “a bigger stage and a bigger paycheck.” And that’s fine. Kansas City isn’t New York City or Chicago or LA. It doesn’t give the same opportunities, and it doesn’t have all the same sports teams (Though it does have an NFL team, I’m looking at you LA). But Chris decided the best topic for his column at Grantland today would be to trash Kansas City and declare that “we” (he still says we despite his apparent hatred of his hometown) are a horrible sports town clinging to insecurities and an inferiority complex.
I may not be the most qualifed to write about Kansas City. I didn’t grow up here. I moved to Johnson County (on the Kansas side for those of you who aren’t Kansas Citians) when I was 16. My pro sports allegiances are all about Chicago. I spent time in some other places in Kansas, but 2 1/2 years ago I moved back to KC, this time on the Missouri side and couldn’t be happier to be home.
That’s what Kansas City is to me. It’s home. Home is when I walk into Gates and hear “Hi! May I help you!” Home is driving by the stadium at Blue Valley Northwest High School where I participated in the first football game played there (if my participated we mean, I was there, in uniform, and got in for a play or two). Home is walking from my place in Westport to some of my favorite hang outs, or taking in the collection bigger than a city this size should be blessed to have at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It’s Arthur Bryant’s, Winstead’s, Town Topic, Blanc, Waldo Pizza, Garozzo’s, and a hundred other local loves we all could add to the list. It’s First Fridays in the Crossroads, Christmas lights on the Plaza, food and drinks in Westport, and even events downtown in and around Power & Light. It’s the city of fountains, jazz, and great barbecue, and no one does it better.
But you’re just talking about sports, right, Chris? As a Chicago fan I’m pretty unbiased. I don’t dislike the Royals or the Chiefs. I can’t count myself as a fan, but I wish them well. And here’s a secret: I admire their fans. I really do. The greatest quality that a fan can have is loyalty. And while the Royals may not draw the numbers that many other teams do, their fans are loyal. Many of the Royals fans I know really are some of the greatest fans around. Losing, but still loving your team can do that for you.
And we certainly have no shortage of college sports. The city is taken over every year for the Big 12 (minus 2) tournament. It belongs here. It needs to be here. Like me, and so many others, it has a home here. And even outside the tournament, it’s home to college sports. Where else can you find a legitimate home away from home for 3 separate college programs?
We don’t have an NBA team. I’m not sure we could support one if we did. I’d love to go to the Sprint Center and see NBA and NHL games, but that’s not a part of our reality. While your quotes about the Sprint Center were deliberately taken out of context and to deride the arena (which, by the way is one of the best I’ve been to, and I consider myself a pretty well traveled sports fan) and our city, it is an arena that has become profitable more quickly than expected, and has done so without an NBA or NHL tenant.
I grew up in Iowa. My family moved away from Kansas City while I was in college. I have plenty of excuses to not call Kansas City home if I don’t want to, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. When people ask me if I’m visiting my family in Indianapolis for holidays they always say “are you going home?” and I am quick to correct them.
So Chris, I’m glad you’re big time in New York now. You can keep it.
I am home. And I love being home.