Unfamiliar with Major League Soccer’s top team in the Eastern Conference? Well then, take a minute, sit down and let me introduce you to a few things you might want know about the Midwest Team.
1. The name will grow on you. Trust me, I rolled my eyes over it at first too, and it can be really hard to explain to people. But looking at the name change a year and a half later, it was not only brilliantly timed re-branding, but the logo encompasses Sporting’s desire to be more than just a soccer team. And it has worked because the Sporting name and brand covers a lot more than an MLS team through the community.
2. The organization cares about the fans A LOT. Players aren’t afraid to embarrass themselves in hilarious videos for the fans, and when you run into them at Costco, they’re excited to see you too. Recently I won a contest to spend a day with the US Open Cup. While most organizations won’t let you touch the stand their trophy sits on, Sporting KC recently let me date (and well, see the picture) their beloved cup.
3. Everyone is invested. Mrs. Heineman (the CEO’s wife) bakes cookies for the security guards before games. Defender Seth Sinovic’s grandparents attend every home game. Another popular defender, Aurelien Collin, couldn’t play in a recent game due to yellow card accumulation, and instead of hiding out in a suite, he ventured into the stands to visit his favorite young fan (they’re on a first name basis). The fans are invested too. The entire south side of the stadium stands up every single time the ball comes toward their goal. Every time! And the entire north side of the stadium never sits down. Livestrong Sporting Park has become the place to be because of this investment.
4. Kansas City may not know what to do with a winning team. One time after a big SKC win, the paper covered the story on page three of their sports section, while the Chiefs loss was covered for the fourth straight day on the front page. Nothing against the newspaper, it’s mostly the fault of the city’s culture- you lose often enough and you get used to it. But this is starting to change. More and more people know about Sporting, and more people are learning to celebrate a winning team. I’m going to go big here and suggest that Sporting Kansas City has a chance to change the city here, and they’re taking it.
5. The fans stay positive (at least about their own team). This is rare in Kansas City (see above). I love Kansas City’s other teams, but if things start to go badly, people boo loudly or walk out. But if SKC is losing, the fans still chant “I Believe That We Will Win” and nobody leaves until the final whistle.
Emily Ritter writes about Sporting Kansas City for Aerys Soccer and is a contributing writer for Aerys Offsides. Follow her on Twitter @ebritter2.