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DIERKS: KC sports culture on the rebound

At an all-male high school, sports are inevitably an intrinsic part of the school’s culture, and Rockhurst’s teams have historically succeeded at local and state competitions. Outside of the school’s microcosm, however, this sport culture has been waning over the years. With the exception of some sparse die-hard fans, in previous years the sports audience in Kansas City has been losing its vigor. Yet as of recent, this notion is now indefensible. The fire has been rekindled. Kansas City has its restored its identity as a national sports metropolis.

Recent successes have undeniably helped this trend. Currently, the Chiefs are in the midst of their second straight winning season and a four game winning streak, putting them at a competitive 7-5 record. In the soccer domain, Sporting KC earned Major League Soccer’s most prestigious prize last year as the club earned the team’s second MLS Cup since its founding nearly 20 years ago.

And of course, there are the Royals–the hometown heroes. Rebounding off nine straight seasons of losing records, the Royals earned their first winning season last year, finishing 86-76 (.531 win percentage). As we all know, this year marked the Royals’ first playoff berth since the historic 1985 season.

The team’s dramatic race for the pennant against the Giants has proven to be a monumental event in the rehabilitation of an ebbing KC sports following. For the Game 7 airing alone, over 50 million people tuned in to watch the previously unqualified underdogs take on the dynastic Giants. Across the board in all facets of Kansas City Sports, attendance levels have increased, merchandise sales have skyrocketed and above all, Kansas City sports fans can finally call themselves proud Kansas Citians.

Whether it be renewed records for the loudest outdoor stadium (Arrowhead Stadium–142.2 decibels) or SportsCenter features on the P&L district during World Cup and World Series, recent Kansas City sports successes have revamped a lost communal spirit. In today’s setting, it is simply hard to believe the 2009 Arrowhead Stadium was ranked among the least attended stadiums in the NFL (20th). In just five years, Arrowhead, in accordance with the revitalized sport culture in Kansas City, has leapfrogged to 7th in the League, boasting an average of nearly 80,000 fans per game.

Kansas Citians have recently drawn together again in the accomplishments of the sports teams they back. Rallies, watch parties, and promotion events are again a common occurrence. Sports, a indispensable unifying force, are again a part of Kansas City. Royal blue, Chief red and gold, and Sporting KC baby blue once more adorn the average Kansas Citian rather than just the thick-skinned, battle-tested fan. This overwhelming sense of pride that ultimately makes Kansas City the respected community that it is has been reinvigorated and Kansas Citians can take pride in their sports teams once again.

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