Bad Chiefs team, cowardly Belcher don't define Kansas City
The Kansas City Star
So how tainted is Kansas City by Jovan Belcher’s despicable acts over the weekend?
If we puff up with pride in Kansas City when our sports teams are in the headlines for the good things they do, do we slink off in a corner when our city and teams are being scandalized by bad news?
Like most sports fans, I root for the hometown teams partly because Kansas City gets some good national publicity when they succeed.
I and other Kansas Citians enjoyed the national, if brief, attention from baseball’s All-Star Game this July.
But now Kansas City is dealing with the flip side of professional sports, the part where the coverage is almost all about depressing news.
For weeks the Chiefs have been the laughingstock of the National Football League. Even after Sunday’s emotional 27-21 victory over Carolina, the Chiefs are tied with Jacksonville for the worst record in the league.
The owner, general manager, coach and players all have received much-deserved criticism locally for putting such a poor product on the Arrowhead Stadium field, at a facility subsidized with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
But Belcher’s murder of his girlfriend - then suicide in front of some Chiefs’ personnel on Saturday - have brought even more notoriety for the team.
And for Kansas City.
Obviously no one but Belcher - who took the cowardly way out of this life by killing a woman and then himself - is responsible for what happened Saturday.
And it’s certainly true that the incidents will spotlight for many Kansas Citians that we have to look for warning signs among people who may be depressed, who may be engaging in domestic violence. That’s a small bit of good that can come out of this tragedy.
Still, this fact remains: Kansas City is getting national, negative publicity because of its poor football squad and the horrible actions of one of its players.
For me, this is yet more evidence that keeping sports and the psyche of a city in balance is very important.
I’m going to be at a two-day conference starting today called CityAge, The New American City, at the stunning Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It will highlight dozens of ways cities are building better futures for themselves, such as hooking up to high-speed Internet, taking care of their infrastructure better, improving their public/private partnerships and - yes - working on making sure their professional sports facilities are important drivers in the economic development of their urban areas.
Kansas City’s two main professional sports teams have been bad for long stretches of times in recent years, with only glimmers of hope for the future.
Yet the city has made tremendous strides in improving its cultural facilities and in making more repairs to its infrastructure. Having good sports teams didn’t have anything to do with that.
The Chiefs and Royals are important to Kansas City. But we have to keep things in balance and realize the losing on the field by the two teams - and the despicable actions of one of its players - do not define us as a city.
How we respond to those actions, though, just might define us in our own eyes.