KC fans' bitterness turns to boorishness



Chiefs fans hearts are as empty as the seats these days.
  • Flickr: Rhonlynn
  • Chiefs fans' hearts are as empty as the seats these days.
It turns out, you can push a fanbase only so far. Who knows if it was The Wall Street Journal calling Kansas City a loser last week for the ineptitude of its sports teams, the Royals' decision to raise ticket prices following the miserable 2012 season, or the latest display of offensive inefficiency at Arrowhead, but Kansas City Chiefs fans lost their minds Sunday when they cheered that an injury would force quarterback Matt Cassel from the game.

Decades of losing have ground down this fanbase's genteel nature. And that's how you found the Chiefs' biggest offseason acquisition, offensive tackle Eric Winston, practically spitting with anger Sunday afternoon in a postgame locker-room interview. Arrowhead Pride collected all of his quotes, but here is the heart of it:

"When you cheer, when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don't care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel, it's sickening," Winston said. "It's 100 percent sickening. I've been in some rough times on some rough teams. I've never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there."

I was willing to dismiss the booing of Robinson Cano at the Home Run Derby as a lark, a collective release of tension in a meaningless exhibition game, meant to show support for a local country hero in Billy Butler and find a villain in pinstripes. But now I'm thinking that it was merely a warning tremor of the earthquake to come.

Sustained losing and disappointment have embittered the folks who show up at Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead. Midwest civility is as good and torched as a hamburger forgotten on the grill at a tailgate. This isn't the Black Hole, but even the black-and-silver-painted, chest-thumping denizens of Oakland were watching SportsCenter with their mouths agape yesterday. The only thing savage about Kansas City fans used to be the sauce stains on the front of their jerseys. But the booing of Cassel, who left the game with a concussion, was a primal chant that suggests Kansas City fans are broken.

If failing to field a winning product has irrevocably altered Kansas City sports fans, then that will be the great tragedy of the past few years. And the once famed home-field advantage at Arrowhead has disappeared because of a fanbase that has forgotten how to cheer.

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