OTC: Grantland Takes KC To Task For Not Being NBA Relevant

“Currently the Sprint Center is home to an arena football team and not much else. Its Wikipedia page boasts of ‘notable concerts,’ ‘possible major-league sports’ and, my favorite, ‘other sporting events,’ a category expansive enough to include both beach volleyball and bull riding. The fate of the Sprint Center is the latest bit of evidence that things have gone south on K.C.’s sporting scene…”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: Suellentrop is a former Kansas Citian who penned a column bemoaning the current state of his hometown for Bill Simmons’ new writer-heavy website, Grantland. Why he chose the Sprint Center and the lack of an NBA franchise here in Cowtown makes little sense. We have plenty of sports woes to document – make that P.L.E.N.T.Y! But zeroing in on one of the most popular auditoriums in the country and our lack of an NBA franchise where the league owners are in disarray over losing money doesn’t appear to be well thought out. Read on.

“The once-great sports page at the Kansas City Star has been gutted…”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: Again, what newspaper hasn’t been gutted over the past three years? The Kansas City Star had plenty of issues before the gutting – why not discuss those? Maybe Chris is still holding out hope for an invite from Mike Fannin to the Caddyshack Bar in the River Market.

“The Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game since the 1993 season when Joe Montana was the quarterback, and, as Rany Jazayerli persuasively argued in Grantland the other day, over the past 25 years the Royals have been the worst franchise in all of professional sports.”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: Bingo! Okay, Chris! You’re finally hitting your stride here on what makes KC different. Our two once-proud professional sports franchises are as forgettable as Charlie O.

“These developments have added to Kansas City’s longstanding and permanent inferiority complex. Other cities are proud of what they are, and if Kansas City were a typical city, it would revel in its status as a cow town with a distinctive local character and a pair of once-great sports franchises. But Kansas City wants to be more than that. It wants to be thought of as sophisticated and big league.”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: Yeah, I’ll buy that. As a Kansas City resident for the past 25 years, the most prevalent negative about our lovely town that jumps out at me is our reluctance to celebrate who we are. Instead, we privately cringe at what we are not and lash out with venom at those we wish to become.

“Combine this romantic, backward-looking vision with the traditional Midwestern delusion that you are more American than the rest of the country, and you’re left with a strikingly insular self-conception, a sense that you are in a place in righteous decline.”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: Suelly went too east coast on me with this one. What the heck is “a strikingly insular self-conception?” It sounds naughty…and could lead to blindness! And even those New Yorkers and Bostonians have to admit we’re more American than those bozos. Have you heard those guys’ accents?

“This unusual self-image, both nostalgic and resentful, is one reason why growing up in Kansas City — or having grown up there, as the feeling doesn’t fully set in until you leave — imbues you with an unexpected feeling of loneliness.”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: I really hate when I’m imbued. We might be getting to the crux of Chris’ issues with his hometown – he didn’t have much luck with the ladies in Olathe. Or was it the basketball players Chris struck out with?

“It’s startling to find out — for me, the first time was as a college freshman in the South — that Kansas City is not like anywhere else. It’s as distinct as Texas or New Orleans or Los Angeles or Manhattan, only you wouldn’t know it by its local view of itself (which is that it’s the perfect, if disrespected, distillation of the hard-working, unpretentious American essence) or its national reputation (which is that, as the lack of an NBA franchise indicates, it doesn’t exist).”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: Come on, Chris. Kansas City doesn’t exist to the rest of the nation because we don’t have an NBA team? I always thought that was one of the feathers in our headdress.

“If the NCAA were to somehow lock out the nation’s college basketball players, Kansas Citians would begin climbing utility poles in droves, in search of the blissful release of instant death. To us, college basketball is not the minor leagues — it’s the main attraction. The NBA is more like the Senior PGA Tour, a place to watch aging, faded greats who are no longer on the big stage.”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: Show me your NBA playoff bracket predictions (and those of the little old lady next door) and then I’ll believe the NBA excites the USA like college hoops. #Farokhmanesh

“I’m not trying to be mean to Kansas City. It was a pretty great place to grow up in, in part because we were all pretty lonely, even if some of us didn’t know it.”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: There’s that “lonely” talk again. Chris, the next time you’re in KC give me a call and I’ll have @FakeNedYost show you how to have a good time on nothing but Groupons and a cell phone.

“I didn’t know yet that if you want to do something reasonably creative for a living and get paid for it, pretty much the only way to do it in Kansas City anymore was to write for Hallmark cards. That’s probably part of why my friends and I were so bored…”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: Hallmark Cards? When did Chris leave KC, 1967? Creativity is everywhere in this little Cowtown. Our architectural firms have designed and built some of the greatest stadiums and arenas in the world the past 25 years. Our local advertising companies employ creative and bright minds whose work rattles around in the brains of anyone with a television, radio or email address. Have you walked the streets of the Crossroads District, Chris? We have plenty of tattooed and pierced artists whose work would look right at home in SoHo. So what if much of our creative talent leaves home to find their fortune? The SNL alums who were in town just last week are great advertisement for the talent crop that grows here in flyover country.

“My point is this: Not long after I took that job (at The Olathe Daily News), I left, looking for a bigger stage and a bigger paycheck. We pretty much all left. I went to Washington, others went to Chicago or Los Angeles or New York, aspiring writers and comedians and filmmakers and actors and even lawyers. I don’t think you can blame us. Each and every one of us just wanted the same thing out of Kansas City that David Stern wants and hasn’t found: ownership and fan support.”
Chris Suellentrop, Grantland.com
GH: Here is another viewpoint. Kansas City and its close-knit suburbs was able to raise, nurture and educate Chris and his friends in such a supportive and creative way that they were able to move on to some of the country’s most vibrant cities and succeed in the professions of their choice. Do we have some insecurity issues? Yep. But all in all, this Midwestern burg is not a bad place to be from, in or headed to…even for the lonely.

[email protected] and Twitter / greghall24

About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.
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33 Responses to OTC: Grantland Takes KC To Task For Not Being NBA Relevant

  1. Tim says:

    BTW, I like how he acts like he moved away to make more money. Yippee, you doubled or even tripled your salary so you can afford a cost of living 3 times what it is here. Enjoy your apartment that costs the same as my four BR house.

  2. Gerald Bostock says:

    The point of the article was to provoke the reaction he got and prove his premise. Pretty easy.
    The gist of his article is a rehash of observations made more effectively by Richard Rhodes (dubbing KC cupcake land) in the New Yorker, I think, back in 1987 or so, and by Bill James in one of the Baseball Abstracts following the Royals World Series (so that would probably be the 1986 Abstract). KC people as a group always have been too concerned about whether other people think they’re “Big League” instead of just appreciating the positives of not always being Big League. Trying to compete with New York or Chicago or Los Angeles is a battle KC is never going to win–but there’s no reason we have to.
    As for Kietzman–I haven’t listened yet to his response, but over the years, his boorish, superficial “love it or leave it” boosterism for KC is just demagoguery and grandstanding. His caveman defense of KC is just as obnoxious as the elitist east-coasters who dismiss the middle of the nation as “flyover country.”

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