Sports are a lot of fun. But they can also cause a lot of heartbreak. Kansas City sports fans are all too familiar with that kind of pain. The baseball team was the laughingstock of the sport for two decades, then lost a World Series with one of the biggest ninth inning teases ever. The football team took two decades to even win a post-season game, with some of the most ridiculous, heartbreaking playoff losses along the way.
How do we deal with losses in sports? Some people get depressed. Listen to any sports talk radio show in the area today and you will hear sad fans, radio hosts choking up in tears, and a general malaise permeating the Kansas City area on this gray, rainy day. Some people get angry. They destroy things, punch holes in walls. They lay into the players on post-game shows, set fire to jerseys. Some people even laugh. The ridiculousness of the futility of your sports team may produce nothing but resigned laughter.
Not sure who said it, but it's apt: "If a friend treated me the way sports does, I would never be friends with that person."— Matthew Ketchum (@mattketchum) September 21, 2014
There is also perspective. After the 2003 college basketball championship game, the one where Kansas was favored to beat Syracuse, but lost 81-78, a classmate of mine at KU who attended the Final Four with me said that “in the end, its just a bunch of guys you’ll never meet wearing a jersey with your hometown or school written on it.” We move on with our lives, living the ups and downs of life, the true thrills , the true pains.
But I think we invest so much in sports because they can help us simulate pains and thrills without being too real. No one died at yesterday’s Chiefs game. It hurts, but it is an appropriate amount of hurt - nothing we can’t handle, but still legitimate pain. And the pain makes it all the more rewarding when we do get the thrill of victory. We have been along for the journey. We stuck with the team. We didn’t jump ship to cheer on the Yankees/Patriots/Duke basketball/Alabama football/Lakers.
Chin up, Chiefs fans. The Royals came within an inch of tying up the Game 7 of a World Series, only to have it snuffed out. It should have been a devastating loss that generations would have looked back at in angst. But the Royals kept their players. They were motivated. They came back the next year and steamrolled the American League, then blew past the Mets to win the second championship in franchise history.
The Chiefs still have a fairly young team. Travis Kelce will be back. Tyreek Hill will be back. Marcus Peters and Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson and maybe even Dontari Poe and Eric Berry will be back. The losses hurt, but the good thing about sports is that with each year, the game begins anew. The Chiefs get a clean slate again this fall. And maybe they’ll steamroll the league and give Kansas City the biggest championship rally it has seen since the fall of 2015.
How do you deal with sports losses? What is the most crushing loss you have ever endured as a fan?