If you learn only one thing it should be that life is not fair.
Several years ago a dear friend was very sick. I was complaining to her about how unfair it was for some gas stations to double and triple their prices right after 9/11.
“How can gas stations gouge people right after a national tragedy?” I asked.
“Remember, John, life’s not fair,” she said very calmly. “But we can be fair.”
My friend died shortly after our conversation, but her words have stayed with me forever. In Kansas City I sometimes think of those words when I think of our sporting teams, particularly at this time of year.
It just isn’t fair being a Kansas City Royals or Chiefs fan.
Is it fair that we have loved and supported the Royals for decades now and they have literally slapped us in the face? Our hero still remains George Brett, who led the team to the last World Series title in 1985. George turns 60 next year.
Again this year the Royals are simply playing out another season because the league requires each team to play 162 games. It’s been that way now for 27 years. This city annually gets excited about the team in spring training, and by July, we once again know that we have been duped.
What’s particularly frustrating about the Royals at this time of the year is that there are only two reasons the team even plays: One, we can simply hope to screw up other teams’ playoff chances, and, two, our players hope to pad their statistics in the hope of landing a bigger contract or get traded to a team plays games that count in September.
Is how the Kansas City Chiefs performed over the years fair to us? This is a city where we still revere Len Dawson for leading the team to the AFL-NFL Championship title (it wasn’t even called the Super Bowl back then) in 1970.
We still love old Number 16. But that was more than 40 years ago. Lenny is 77 today.
There is a basic unfairness today in baseball where teams like the New York Yankees can simply buy a title. On the other hand, the Royals are owned by Walmart icon David Glass. Our only chance for a title is if he can land some quality players for $19.99—on clearance.
By mid-July fans knew the Royals were heading into the dumper for 2012. As Kansas Citians, we then turned to our beloved Chiefs as we always do each season. We are kind of like a battered wife who leaves a domestic shelter to return home thinking her husband has changed.
How sad is it that the Kansas City Star and sports talk shows actually began celebrating when the team won its first PRESEASON game by throttling the hapless Arizona Cardinals 27-17? Are you kidding?
We have become so desperate that a silly preseason game against a horrible opponent is somewhow important? The next week the team lost to rival St. Louis 31-17 and the lovefest was pretty much over. A 44-14 throttling in Week 3 had folks jumping off the Chiefs bandwagon big time. Before the season event started.
The sad thing about the Chiefs is the NFL is actually designed where all teams are supposed to be average. The magic word is “parity.” A perfect schedule for NFL bosses would be where every team finished the season 8-8.
An NFL orgasm would be every team having a chance to make the playoffs heading into the final weekend. TV ratings would skyrocket in every market. Stadiums would be filled across the country. The money would roll in.
In other words, the fact that the Chiefs haven’t won even a single playoff game since 1994 really points out how pathetic the team has been over the years. Can you believe the team’s record since its founding is 403-377? That is the definition of average. It would be nice to be above parity…
After the latest revelations of the joke courses athletes have taken at North and South Carolina it once again points out that the term “Student-Athlete” is really an oxymoron. It’s kind of like “military intelligence” or “jumbo shrimp.”
Now a Pulitzer Prize winning author, Taylor Branch, has pointed out the term “Student-Athlete” was coined by lawyers for the NCAA so that if an athlete was severely injured he would not be able to file a Workers’ Compensation claim against the college because he was classified as a student.
Now it makes sense why colleges pretend many of these athletes are “students.” TCU used this defense to stop paying for a football player paralyzed during a game. Others have done the same.
Okay, we get it that legendary Penn State Coach Joe Paterno could have done more to stop molestations of kids by one of his coaches. Put yourself in his position when someone says he thinks one of your defensive coaches for four decades (who is married and has a charity helping kids) was doing something suspicious in the shower. Would you immediately call 9-1-1 to report it? Didn’t think so.
A friend of mine recently died of cancer. One of the last things he did was attend a football game at Penn State, where he was a proud alum. Should he and literally hundreds of thousands of others have been punished for the actions of a handful of people?
Keep in mind Paterno never molested anyone. Do you really think that if he had really known what was happening he would not have stopped it immediately? Maybe I am the only one willing to cut him some slack.
Lance Armstrong can pretend that he did not cheat throughout his career, but it is now very clear that he did and gave up when he knew he was caught. But Armstrong is somehow still revered and remains an endorsement machine.
A sports talker said he was giving Armstrong a pass because “all those other cyclists were taking performance enhancing drugs.” All of them were? What a blanket, stupid statement to justify someone with less credibility than Jose Canseco.
John Landsberg is a columnist for KC Sports & Fitness Magazine. This is his September 2012 column.