Monday, October 20, 2014

How the KC Royals Trumped Ebola News

 In 1985, I was a college sophomore at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, a little over 200 miles from my childhood home in Overland Park, Kansas.  I moved to Kansas City in 1977 from Chicago, where I was born.  My parents moved us to have a better quality of life, better schools, safer, more opportunities.  One of my earliest childhood memories was attending, at the time, Kauffman Stadium to watch the Kansas City Royals.  Ewing Kauffman, a very successful Kansas City businessman, bought the Kansas City Royals in 1968 and was the face of the Royals for decades.

I spent my pre teen and teen years watching the likes of George Brett, Willie Wilson, Frank White, Dan Quisenberry….true greats of the sport.  From 1977 when I moved to KC until I left for college in 1984, the Royals were mostly up and down….until the 1985 season.

And now, 29 years later and 8,000+ miles from KC, I watch the excitement growing on Facebook and Twitter.  For my friends back home there is no Ebola, no ISIS, no threat of nuclear warfare, no starvation, no genocide, no political posturing and stagnation, there is simply HOPE that 29 years from the last World Series Championship, there will be another for this great Midwestern city.

See, that’s what sports do.  Sport has the power to bring people together, to forget about all the negativity of life, the hardship, the heartache and to give people from all walks of life, one common goal, for at least a moment, a few weeks or even a season.  This is sport.

Kansas City has never had the biggest payroll.  It is a relatively small market in terms of Major League Baseball.  Out of 30 teams, they are 19th in payroll, the bottom half.  KC has played and beaten the LA Angels ($155,692,000), the Baltimore Orioles ($107,406,000) and will face the San Francisco Giants ($154,185,000) in the World Series.  KC’s payroll….$92,034,000. 

It’s rarely about the money; it’s always about the heart, the camaraderie, and the teamwork.

Kansas City embodies our motto at Team Rwanda:  #TeamisTeam.

Doubt me?  Watch:

Team Rwanda did not exist 7 years ago.  Today, they compete on the world stage.  But more importantly, they represent how sport can transcend a tragic past, how cyclists can work together for the team when their families had been on the opposite sides of a war.

This is sport.

The other day I felt the need to write about the current stream of “shock value” media.  I was tired of the poverty porn and the outrage about three people with Ebola in the US, (never mind the thousands who have died in West Africa).  I was tired of seeing people mentally collapse, on Facebook no less, over their first world problems.  But that was the morning (evening in KC) when the Royals had done the unthinkable.  FB was filled with HOPE.  Could the Royals possibly be World Champs again?  KC is galvanized around sport, around some boys in blue smacking a baseball.  Through the fans of KC we see, the world really isn’t so crappy after all.  There are serious areas of big time crappy…but it’s not the ALL.  Today, KC stands together with one common goal, supporting their team. 

And really, what if we all did that, whatever our “team” is?  (Okay…maybe not the ISIS team). 

What if we focused on hope?  On teamwork (Congress are you listening?)

What if we believed in the underdog again?

What if we just forgot our personal petty problems?

What if we just cheered for some boys in blue?  Or some riders in a Rwandan cycling kit at an international race?  Or some German footballers (soccer) at the World Cup?

That is the power of sport…go PLAY!

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