Tigers and Royals and Chiefs, Oh My!
An odd thing is happening in Missouri, and as a native Missourian and resident, born and raised in Kansas City but no longer living there, it is a terrible thing to witness. Sports are revered in Missouri, as in many places, and that is not a bad thing in its own right. I realize this issue is not about sports, really, but it wouldn’t be a national issue without sports. Looking at this as an insider, I cringe seeing how vilified Missouri, as a whole, is right now. A little perspective please.
Just over a week ago, the Kansas City Royals had won the World Series for the first time in 30 years, and only the second time ever, and KC put on a parade in their honor. An estimated 800,000 people donned Royal blue and gathered together in a show of unity and beauty so grand, so Royal, that only 3 arrests occurred, there were no riots, no overturned cars, no looting. For those of you who don’t know, Kansas City is a very diverse town, but it came together, over a sporting event, in a way that gives the words “first-class” a meaning. Also, the total population of KC and its suburbs is about 2 million, so half the town was there. There were no racial tensions, no bad actors, just a great city enjoying a great moment.
Less than one week later we have the Mizzou debacle. No one knows, at this time, which, if any, of the allegations of racist incidents are true or false. Yet there have been resignations, there have been demonstrations, there have been tensions and lies and segregation even! There have been, sadly, allegations of retaliatory threats from an off-campus person who has now been, correctly, detained. But if not for the threats of cancelling a sporting event, costing the university millions of dollars, this would likely be a local story and not much else. And here we are.
Reading around the web I think there is something that many people don’t realize since they’re not in Missouri. The Mizzou vs. BYU event on Saturday is not a regular game because this game is not to be played in Columbia like a Tigers’ home game. This game is to be played at the home of the Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium, which has 8,000 more seats and the additional amenities of the city. Mizzou plays at Arrowhead at least once a year, for these promotional and economic reasons, so the potential losses to the University were exponentially magnified. Why does this matter? Fears abound that the game this weekend could end in major riots, but commenters all seem to think this will happen in Columbia.
Here’s what I think: The good people of Kansas City were just unified in celebration of a World Champion baseball team. The good people of Kansas City will not riot. They will not allow the the joy and pride they have in their town to be sullied by the race-baiting few. I have no affiliation with Mizzou; I have never taken a class or even seen their Columbia campus. But I do think that it is by the grace of God that the game will not, in fact, be held in Columbia.
The focus will shift from Columbia to Kansas City and perhaps some real healing can begin as the situation defuses and the Tigers meet BYU.
Missouri is not a bad place. It is not a hotbed of racism and terror. The few do not represent the whole, and the beautiful unity of Kansas City last week can show the way to unity for Columbia, and the nation as well. Let the healing begin at Arrowhead Stadium. And God Bless Missouri.