My husband and I just returned from a trip to Kansas City, Mo., AND WHO KNEW? Kansas City is now officially my Spirit City for the following reasons.
5. The Q
Let it be known to mankind that I will never ever eat a pulled pork sandwich for the rest of my natural (and also unnatural) born days as good as the one I ate at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, which is still a working gas station, P.S.
Oh, yes. We partook of barbecue as if it were our new career. We could be an inspiring AARP story, in fact: “Soon-to-Be Elderly Couple Discover a Second Act as Professional Barbecue Eaters.”
And here’s the thing: That’s not why we even went to Kansas City in the first place and that’s not even the point of this column. We went to Kansas City because (P.C. Police Alert!) the Kansas City Chiefs were playing the Washington Redskins and this seemed like a good game to attend because “Going to a Professional Football Game Once Before I Die” has been an item on my bucket list forever.
And how was the experience of going to Arrowhead Stadium? Let’s just say I have never had more fun at a game of any kind in my entire life. It was a full-on rockin’ party from start to last — Roman spectacle at its finest.
Before the game we wandered through the Hall of Honor on the lower concourse, which reminded me of that iconic photograph from the first Super Bowl of former Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson smoking a cigarette while sitting on a folding chair with a bottle of Fresca at his feet during halftime.
There are not enough words to say how much I have always loved this picture. I love it so much I kept it taped on our fridge door for years. Why? Because it symbolizes all the ways things have changed in professional sports and in our society at large for the past 50 years.
Meanwhile, I feel a PSA coming on about the dangers of smoking, so here goes:
A WORD OF WARNING TO THE YOUTH OF AMERICA: It has been scientifically proven that smoking increases your chances of going to the Super Bowl as a quarterback and losing to the Packers. So don’t start.
OK. It’s time to get to the point of this column. When I looked around at a stadium filled with people chanting and cheering and representing with jerseys and hats and face paint, it occurred to me that THIS is the good thing about fandom: It allows human beings to safely (most of the time) indulge their hardwired desire to be tribal.
NEWSFLASH: Have you heard? HUMAN BEINGS ARE TRIBAL!
We like to hang with our own kind. We like to believe our own kind is better than your own kind. We exclude each other and demonize each other for this reason. You know how it goes. Conservatives think liberals are un-American. Liberals think conservatives are unenlightened. Human beings start wars for this reason. Culture wars. Real wars. Wars with actual consequences.
But with sports? Sure. The outcome of a game can make or break your day, maybe even your week. But life goes on and no one gets hurt. Unless, of course, you’re in Philadelphia. Then when the next game rolls around, you break out your colors all over again and cheer to your heart’s content for your tribe.