Tuesday, August 7, 2012

EDITORIAL: It's time for Kansas City sports fans to dump Royals, support Sporting Kansas City

By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

There is a very big game this week at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Sporting Kansas City will be taking on Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup championship game.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Royals are in the midst of another losing season and are currently sitting in last place in the American League, about the same position they've been in for 20 years.

It's the perfect time for Kansas City sports fans to prioritize Sporting Kansas City over the Royals, making the soccer team the second most important professional sports franchise in Kansas City.

Because let's face it - nothing is replacing the Kansas City Chiefs.

I was born in 1985, the year the Royals won their World Series title over the St. Louis Cardinals. I rooted for them more than any other team growing up as a kid. Even when my family moved out to Colorado, I did my best to keep track of the Royals, whether that included calling relatives back home or checking out The Kansas City Star online in the "very early" stages of the Internet.

I have been a diehard Royals and for the last 20 years, I have only died hard when it comes to the Royals, usually by the time July rolls around.

After the last week, I'm done with the Royals until owner David Glass sells the team.

First, it was revealed the Royals franchise was using tax-payer dollars to pay common expenses, a big no-no at least in my opinion.

Second, the Royals fired its first base coach and designated Yuni Betancourt.

Neither of those are essential pieces of the franchise, but afterwards, manager Ned Yost proclaimed the Royals were attacking the culture of losing. If scapegoating the least critical coaching staff member and a utility outfielder is developing a culture of winning, that's news to me.

I have made the transition to the Sporting Kansas City bandwagon. While you could support both, it's time to put Sporting KC number two on your "KC teams to root for" list.

Here's why:

1. Accountability. Glass embarrassed himself in an All-Star game interview on 610 Sports just before the All-Star game happened. General Manager Dayton Moore and the owner have ducked criticism in the past few years. Let's compare this to Robb Heineman, who went on 810 WHB the day after Sporting KC's less than thrilling 0-0 draw to open up play in the new stadium out in Village West. Read the first two or three comments from Heineman in this piece from Greg Hall and tell me if you can imagine this being said at The K. It's fitting that Sporting KC turned their season around after Heineman publicly took criticism like that and won the division in 2011-12. Any sports franchise must have accountability. Right now, the Royals don't. Customers should pick accountability over tradition.

2. It's a fun experience. The crowd at Sporting KC is more lively and when it gets loud in there, it can feel like a concert. Sporting's stadium has an electric feel that The K did when the Royals were doing great in the 1980s.

3. Sporting's a better franchise right now. It may be unfair, but if you could only afford to support one franchise, you go with the winner - right? The team is currently in first place in the Eastern Conference coming off a great season last year. The Royals? Wake me up when they get to third place.

4. Local ownership and vision. Before the Kansas City Wizards became Sporting Kansas City, I was given a sneak-peak of the renaming and re-branding process by the former public relations director there. It's clear there's a vision from the ownership group. Can you find a vision with the Royals right now? They have some nice talent in the major and minor leagues, but it's tough to find a master plan to win the division, let alone making a run at the World Series. Another benefit about the ownership group with Sporting - it's local and based in the Kansas City metro area.

5. Give soccer a chance. I realize soccer is not popular with everyone. I used to be in the majority of Americans who hated soccer. However, after watching soccer up close in recent years - whether it be national soccer, high school soccer or Sporting Kansas City - it's won me over. And if it can win a diehard American football and basketball fan over, it can win baseball fans over too. Soccer is a tremendous sport with tremendous athletes in it. If you watch soccer, you quickly learn to appreciate the endurance and athleticism required to thrive in the sport.

There's five reasons why you should put Sporting Kansas City over the Royals.