Hearne: Do Sports Really Matter? Royals Fans, Anyone, Anyone?

rollerballIt must be maddening for you people

Do you mind if I call you “you people?” Of course you do. Chances are you won’t like the rest of what I’ve got to say much either, but here goes.

Do sports really matter? I mean, really, truly matter?

The obvious answer is no, but for the sake of argument, let’s go with the more nuanced, yes and no, and then cover it from both sides. Do sports matter to most folks to the extent it does to say, Craig Glazer, your beloved former scribe?

Of course not.

If humanity were as obsessed with sports as the Glaze, society as we know it would come to a halt. There’d be no Internet and what passes for culture would probably resemble the James Caan movie “Rollerball.”

Classical music and the arts would melt away, and we’d be stranded in a world of mundane jobs, action movies, 60s and 70s rock and sex with under-aged girls and women who liked to take their clothes off in public.  Oh and comedy.

Disc Golf 9/21Worse things could happen, I guess but…

Learning that the Kansas City Royals won their sixth straight got me thinking today about the role sports plays in society. Including here on KCC.

My working theory long has been that most people really don’t care that much about sports. I’m talking KU, MU, K-State, Sporting, the Chiefs and Royals locally. Other than something along the lines of, “Hey, the Chiefs are in the playoffs, that’s pretty cool.” Or, “The Royals are in last place, here we go again.”

Then we move on to watching Netflix, playing video games, recording the innocuous details of our hum drum lives on Facebook, hunting, fishing, playing Frisbee golf, riding horses, cutting the grass, driving Fiats – you name it.

Am I wrong? ChaCha says so.

sports-addict-gift-packWhat percentage of people in the US watch sports?

ChaChas’s answer: “A whopping 96 percent! Wow, we are a sports dominated society! No wonder athletes make so much!”

I dunno, that sounds really high. If that were the case, wouldn’t sports talk radio be off the hook instead of languishing far behind any number of music formats and news talk?

Maybe if you count parents who trudge out to see their kids gawdawful soccer and baseball games you could get into the 70s or 80s, but 96 percent?

Wiki Answers provides a more realistic estimate of 40 to 64 percent.

I can live with that. But as a sports moderate, it does seem at times that a highly vocal minority end up as the tail wagging society’s dog. Take college sports.

After eight or so months living in Lawrence, it’s abundantly clear to me that KU Basketball literally governs the politics, culture and policies of the University of Kansas and this town. I kid you not.

To my way of thinking, that’s pretty scarey.

RockChalkJawhawkYou guys would not believe some of the behind the scenes here on that new, multimillion dollar Rock Chalk Park in West Lawrence. And there’s been absolutely no governance or clear-thinking neutral political body to balance things out or insure that the public won’t get screwed on the deal.

Quite the opposite. What news reporting that there’s been gives every indication of it being an insider deal with a carefree cadre of KU officals, a wealthy developer and look-the-other-way city officials leading the charge.

Things in Lawrence are essentially run by a puppet city government, puppet university administration and a meek, rudderless general public.

royal-painsToday I’m feeling Royals fans and the team’s pundit’s pain.

How can any thinking class person truly know when to hop on or off of the team’s woebegotten bandwagon? It’s a lose-lose deal.


Unless you cock back and tell yourself it really doesn’t matter. Which it doesn’t.

Does it?

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40 Responses to Hearne: Do Sports Really Matter? Royals Fans, Anyone, Anyone?

  1. paulwilsonkc says:

    I’ve said many times on here, I’m a sports agnostic. I couldn’t care less what season it is, other than some of the leading names in local sports being major clients of mine. This is my and only my opinion, but it seems to sports are followed, at the rabid level, by guys who wish they would have achieved that level of play and just didn’t. It’s that, and guys who just have no other worthy distraction in their lives. I’m sure 100 people will find that insulting, that’s why I added the disclaimer, it’s only my opinion.

    Add to that, it’s hard to find what kids used to see as a “role model” in any of the sports world, even though that’s not where they should be looking for one. Its full of gangsta wannabe’s , felons and spoiled little boys who never grew up, having been coddled from birth because they could throw faster, shoot better, hit further, etc..

    Take Chad Ochowhatever; in Court for a Domestic Violence parole violation. Apparently he didn’t take it serious the first time, so he violated. For whatever reason, the Judge doesn’t send him to jail and took a recommendation from the two legal teams. When asked by the Judge if he was happy with how he was represented and the outcome, to clarify with him what had taken place, he slaps his attorney on the ass and the courtroom breaks out in laughter, pissing off the Judge, as well it should.

    So, she turns down the suggestion and Chad gets 30 days in jail.

    “I don’t know that you’re taking this whole thing seriously. I just saw you slap your attorney on the backside. Is there something funny about this?” McHugh said, slapping the plea deal document down on her desk. “The whole courtroom was laughing. I’m not going to accept these plea negotiations. This isn’t a joke.”

    Yes, there are good, responsible athletes out there, but in my mind, what a total waste of time. It’s a game, people; find something fulfilling, lasting and productive to do with your time.

    I await the first round of insults from the rabid fan base.

  2. harley says:

    sports now is becoming the largest audience draw on tv, hearne.
    Haven’t seen recent ratings butsunday nite/monday nite/sunday afternoon games
    are drawing big numbers…even with a losing team like chiefs they get 250-300k
    viewers if not more!!!! that doesn’t include the bars etc.
    Sports is about all that people are watching live anymore….no dvr.
    and the rates are skyrocketing.
    so what do viewers have left…pawn stars…news in 50% of the time slots
    or sports…..
    and the money associated with sports is a major factor in the city’s economy…
    from travel/product sold/total revenues are thru the roof…and most
    importantly it adds other non noticeable affects to a town…from a
    good emotional filling…to big merchandise sales…
    hearne…sports matter…even in kc where the royals have had some problems
    but notice the significant uptick in chatter now that they’ve won 6 in a row…
    the effect is huge…and if you live in lawrence…what else is there besides
    ku bball…nothing!!!!!!! without that ku would be just another jccc.

  3. Orphan of the Road says:

    The rise of fantasy sports has pretty much killed off my love of sports. To hear some guy screaming at a TV because he needs whatever-the-hades for his fantasy league. Probably got no closer to an athletic field or participating at a higher-level than 5th grade gym.

    I spent 20-years going to dusty half-miles, shorttracks, miles and road race venues as a racer and a writer. It was a golden era as I got to know kids who went on to win #1 plates and go off the Europe and kick butt in the Grand Prix series.

    Scouring the tv for that occasional race, driving 1000-miles over a weekend to see it live.

    The the sanctioning body for motorcycle racing sold the business to the Daytona Motor Group (NASCAR). Don Emde and his father both won the Daytona 200 (once an international event). In 1948 Floyd Emde took home $3000 for the win. Adjusted for inflation that would be $29,130. This years total purse for the 200 was $20,000.

    What used to be a sport where a pro could race everyday of the week during summer has fallen to where the are few races and you would spend your season driving coast-to-coast several times with little money on the line.

    My pal Mert Lawwill was Grand National Champion, racing for the factory Harley team. After a bad crash he was left with a seriously damaged hand. No money for a great doctor, he could afford only to have it set (ala Les Paul). Fortunately Steve McQueen heard of his problem and paid all the bills for his operation.

    Lawwill went on to develop an artificial hand which allowed an amputee to still ride a motorcycle or bicycle (he builds custom bicycles now as well as motorcycle frames and engines today) at a very low cost for those who haven’t got a lot of money.

    So I’m still a fanatic with two-wheel racing. The rest of sports just fills some idle time.

    • the dude says:

      You want to watch racing at it’s best? Watch the Isle of Man TT moto races.
      Awesome stuff.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        I did and it was terrific. The last bastion of legal street racing.

        • the dude says:

          a few of the dude’s Bucket list items-

          1. Watch Isle of Man TT in person.
          2. Watch Mint 400 in person H.S. Thompson-style.
          3. Watch Lower Oakland Roller Derby finals in person.
          4. Meet harlinator in person so I can kick him in the the shin, throw a pie in his face and run away giggling uncontrollably.

          • Orphan of the Road says:

            I had hoped to take one-lap round ‘Merica on a motorcycle ala William Least-Heat Moon’s Blue Highways. Getting old ain’t for sissies but sometimes the body don’t cooperate.

            The first American rider to win at the Isle of Mann was a racer from a group I worked for in the 80s. Rode for Team Obsolete and rode a Matchless.

            I’d start my own Team Obsolete (chuck, Wilson???) but an attorney owns the team and doesn’t play well with others.

  4. admin says:

    Racing for the Harley team, eh? Sounds like something Paul Wilson dreams of doing.

    Look, I know sports matters to a great many people. But using Harley’s number of 250,000 to 300,000 Kansas Citians watching Chiefs games – I suspect the figure is higher – that still leaves more than 1.5 million not watching.

    To me sports is more like going to a movie. It’s more entertaining if the home team wins, but it doesn’t take away from my overall quality of life if they lose. Or even if they lose consistently. Now if I still had season tickets maybe.

    But I’d just move on to other interests rather than lament the meaninglessness of my life and thirst for the sports fulfillment being experienced in city’s with more successful teams like Indianapolis.

    Have you guys ever been to Indy? Hoo, boy.

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      chuck, my friends back in Philly tell me Merion may loose a hole due to the heavy rains. What will that do to the betting pool?

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      Hearne, Indy used to be an international event too. But CART & IRL have turned it into a happening with little importance to the world of motorsports. Still hugh crowds but not the enthusiastic fans of racing in the past.

      Back before Memorial Day was a weekend-thing, fans would drive all night to see the race and then drive all night to be back at work the next day.

      Maybe there is a law of nature which says the more money pumped into a sport (or event) the less the sport will retain its intergrity?

  5. chuck says:

    Your article is dead on the money Hearne.

    I watch the NFL for one reason only. I gamble. I like to Gamble it’s fun. What can I tell ya. I am getting ready to pony up some cash on the US Open this weekend.

    If I didn’t gamble on sports, I would never watch sports, except golf.

    It just isn’t that interesting unless you are involved on a cash basis.

    Just my opinion.

  6. Nick says:

    It wasn’t until the last decade or so that sports really mattered. And then only because the culture became the bleeding, transgressive edge of human potential.

    Years from now, when it will be a routine matter to dose yourself with HGH equivalents, stem cell products, or just testosterone instead of the nasty, side-effect dealing crap from Big Pharma, we’ll look back at our small-mindedness and be amazed.

  7. StillAtMyMoms says:

    Sports matter? Definitely here in Fartland. Makes sense considering there isn’t much to do here besides drink, go to the local waterhole, and watch games. Our cheap (in comparison) cost of living makes it a stomping ground for budding families. What this post forgot to mention is the ever growing trend of parents hellbent in making little Bobby or Susie the next Jim Thrope. I’ve witnessed first hand the incessant howling if Junior didn’t swing the bat properly or keep their arm straight during a free throw. Plus not to mention how they stalk and pester their kid’s coach if they didn’t put them in the game; especially if a propsective scout is watching. It’s either modern parents want their kid to acquire a full ride scholarship or become delusional enough to visualize their little jocks in the pros. Again, as always, all about money. In fact, I have a entire theory that virtually everything correlates to the almighty dollar. Jesus who?

    Many suburbanites fail to grasp that a sport is simply…..a f’in game. That’s it. In fact, it was contested by a professor who specialized in folklore named Alan Dundes that sports have several homoerotic connotations, besides the obvious “balls” mind you. (Check out the great book by him called, “The Study of Folklore”. Also, the graphic novelist Daniel Clowes-who wrote movies “Ghost World” and “Art School Confidential”-made a comic based on his claim.)

    My grandad once had a name for people who were obsessed with sports, but yet never played them: Jocksniffers. He and I both are perplexed why men obsess about people who play a game for a living. But apparently the comments above provided some insight.

    • admin says:

      I’m with you on the Pushy Parenting aspect of things.

      But they’ve always been there, I suspect. I remember a couple at Pembroke Hill back in the day. And don’t forget the Romans and their Christians, lions and gladiators. Distractions for we masses.

      Sports for dudes mostly is kinda like the male equivalent of JonBenet Ramsey. I don’t want to cut women out of the equation, it’s just that the big bucks and huge audiences for the most part aren’t there (yet).

  8. smartman says:

    Back in 1991 a book titled Megatrends 2000 predicted the demise of sports as we know them. The predictions in the book have been more right than wrong. Despite what the consultant from Harley, Lykes, Black, Cox and Annul says sports in the US is on the decline.

    Best racing of the year will be in August at Kansas Speedway when the Rolex Grand Am Series rolls into town. It’s thinking mans racing, kinda like F1.

    • Super Dave says:

      Well NASCAR is as well a thinking type racing but road course racing as in Grand Am and Rolex seperates the who cans and who can’t drive a race car people. Guess that why I went SCCA instead of dirt track racing at Lakeside. Plus SCCA has a better class of people in it and less likely a dips**t throwing a beer bottle at you if you win.

  9. Mysterious J says:

    We are just not all as evolved as you, Hearne…maybe someday.

    • admin says:

      Yeah well, no rush. And remember to be careful for what you wish for.

      • Mysterious J says:

        Yes, I am sure that your remarkable awareness that of “what really matters” must be both a blessing and a curse.

        Why not cut all of the sports content here? Those columns are only taking away space that could be used for licking Glazer’s rear end or ripping The Star!

  10. chuck says:

    Orphan, here are the odds the guys at ****** are using.

    It’s my first year at this place, so there are variables depending on who is betting how much on what player etc and the juice, but this is it in general.

    Tiger Woods 9-2
    Phil Mickelson 16-1
    Graeme McDowell 20-1
    Matt Kuchar 20-1
    Rory McIlroy 20-1
    Adam Scott 22-1
    Justin Rose 22-1
    Brandt Snedeker 28-1
    Charl Schwartzel 28-1
    Lee Westwood 28-1
    Luke Donald 33-1
    Sergio Garcia 33-1
    Dustin Johnson 40-1
    Jason Day 40-1
    Jim Furyk 40-1
    Keegan Bradley 40-1
    Steve Stricker 40-1
    Webb Simpson 40-1
    Hunter Mahan 50-1
    Jason Dufner 50-1
    Louis Oosthuizen 50-1
    Matteo Manassero 50-1

    Luke Donald and Justin Rose are due and hit irons like lasers, but my longshot is Louis Oosthuizen.

    Everybody is betting Tiger of course and Phil, if he is EVER gonna win again besides at Augusta, well, this is gonna be it. Lotsa 3 woods, wet greens and Phil, when he is on, is a magician with the irons.

    It is ALL about your irons this week at a great course.

    I wanna wicker basket!


    • chuck says:

      Those odds are NOT how ya get paid at this bar, but it gives you an idea of who is the favorite.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        I’m pulling for the hole to be washed out. Imagine how much fun that would be for the PGA.

        The traffic noise will be like having the pa blaring music in a domed stadium.

  11. admin says:

    What, no Royals fan weigh ins?

    You poor slobs have it the worst. It’s like your long cheating spouse stays home for a couple of months and just when you think your marriage is back on its feet – wham – off he or she goes for a month. So you meet with your attorney, draw up the divorce papers, break the news to your family and friends and then… next thing you know the two of you have a week of the best sex you’ve ever had in your life.

    Now what?

  12. bubba says:

    well I haven’t seen the reason that most give for the sports craze. Mind you that my grandmother as a girl had to learn how to keep a box score while listening to the radio so she could it take to great grandfather in fields when it was harvest season. But now in this day of dvr’s sports matter because it is the only thing on TV that is in real time.

    Complete seasons of TV shows are shot several months before they air so one doesn’t feel the urge to have to watch when it airs. People dvr and then fast forward though the commercials.

    NFL, NBA, NCAA football and basketball happen in real time. People watch it and sit through the commercials when not on bathroom break or getting a beer. This is why sports can command such high ad dollars.

    This reminds of the bit on SNL about the razor with six blades when three was considered over the top, now the six blade or so disposable razor is the gold standard. The other bit was along the same lines, maybe not of SNL, but some one did a bit about ESPN ocho. With ESPN 1,2, news, college, etc… plus Fox sports, that has become a reality.

    I try to pick and choose what sports I watch so I don’t overload and miss out on some of the other things life has to offer. But get out of my way when NCAA hoops starts and I am handicapping the tourney 6 months out.

    Guess I will check on the NBA finals now in mid-June with 90 temps outdoors.

  13. cheech lifting weights says:

    Go Geelong Cats.

    • the dude says:

      Only Aussies can try to combine the sports of rugby and soccer and fail so miserably.

  14. CG says:

    Sports does matter, maybe too much these days. It’s a major way for young people to get rich quick if they are great at football,baseball and basketball. We have more young millionaires in sports than most anything else, thousands of them. Especially important to the urban core, where finding a shot at the gold ring is in short supply.

    Much more important its the opium of the people. It’s a ‘get away’ from life’s day to day headaches. I think in many ways sports on TV, betting on them, or watching live has replaced Hollywood to a big extent. After all sports is the big draw for ratings on TV. Look at football both college and pro, America can’t get enough. They’ll watch Farmer State vs. Quaker State on a Tuesday night at 8 PM by the millions.Why? They like football and they bet 25 bucks online just to have something to do and get excited about on a boring Tuesday night in January.

    Today what an athlete of note says or does is front page news and front page yahoo/google/facebook/twitter news…social media eats it up. So does sports talk radio…every DUI, every “he used steroids, he cheated” every well he really didn’t hit her, every…”he called Tiger Woods a …” everything matters today that happens in the lives of name athletes or even lesser known names that get busted for drugs or having too many kids or just going bust. It’s the daily dose.

    Sports Hearne is bigger than it ever was and getting bigger. Pro athletes dominate tv commercials, just the Mannings must have 20 of them. Sports has edged the movie and tv star out of tons of work these days and tons of paydays.

    So I think its the opposite, fair or not sports is THE most important day to day news for most Americans. Not the way it should be, but the way its….’Did the Royals win last night?” Even non fans ask.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      “The NCAA has compiled statistics on the number of high school athletes who continue their sport participation at the intercollegiate and professional levels. The data covers men’s and women’s basketball, football, baseball, ice hockey, and men’s soccer. These are team sports that have well-established professional leagues in the United States.

      Basketball and football, the most visible of high school and college sports, have a very low percentage of athletes who play in high school and then eventually move up to the professional ranks. In men’s basketball, for example, there is only a .03% chance of a pro career. This means that of the almost 156,000 male, high school senior basketball players only 44 will be drafted to play in the NBA after college, and only 32 women (.02%) out of just over 127,000 female, high school senior players will eventually be drafted. In football the odds are slightly better, with .08% or 250 of just over 317,000 high school senior players being drafted.

      The sport with the most professional opportunities is baseball, with high school players having a .4% chance of playing professionally. Though still far less than 1%, the number of opportunities within baseball’s professional development system helps to increase this percentage. Baseball drafts about 600 NCAA athletes from the 6700 college seniors each year, a number that is far higher than any other professional sport and which represents a need to feed its large farm system.

      These NCAA numbers provide the uncomfortable facts. High school and college sports provide the professional leagues with the new blood they need each year, but it is unrealistic to rely on the educational system to launch a professional sports career; the numbers simply don’t support it.”

      I stood in a clients waiting room as I listened to two inner city mom’s discussing the same teacher in KCMO and how she was cracking down on grades, leaving her son in danger of next years sports qualification at the high school level. Bear in mind, this was at a local medical teaching hospital where the two moms were waiting for free or near free care.

      “If she do that to him, I be go up there myself and kick her mother f*ckin ass! He not there to do math, he there to play bassetball!”

      So there’s the mentality. Edumacation doesn’t matter, sports does. So when these academically challenged kids fail, in light in the astronomical odds listed above, what are they left with?

      But let’s say these two scholars in question do make it in the first round and bank the big contract.

      According to Sports Illustrated, 78% of NFL players will file for bankruptcy or face financial hardships only two years after playing their last game. NBA players face a similar fate with, 60% of players going broke five years into retirement.

      I wonder why, given the single scenario that I saw played out above. They are kids with no background, no education, no leadership, no skills and too many homies to drain them. They are doomed from the start.

      So sports as a great hope to get them out of the ghetto? Hardly. Sure, some make it, but the odds leave them better off buying a lottery ticket instead.

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Oh, I have NO knowledge and NO interest in sports, thats just “by the numbers” with no emotion attached to it. When you look on that basis, the picture couldnt be more clear.

        • the dude says:

          But can you play de bassetball good ’nuff to get to duh pros?? Dat all dat mattahs missuh wilsun!!
          Edumukashun! Puhleese! Crazy crackuhs!

  15. CG says:

    Sports is a mulit billion dollar industry. Its the biggest entertainment in America today, bigger than movies today. NFL is second to nobody, even baseball draws well, don’t know why… basketball pro and college huge, getting bigger….there is no arugment folks none, sports is a monster and Americas favorite pastime young and old. To argue sports is not important is beyond stupid. It is. Maybe some of you don’t like it, that’s fine, but hey I don’t like hip hop or rap and its outlived rock. Way it goes.

  16. CG says:


  17. dreamwriter326 says:

    Last night was a gorgeous evening to watch a Royals game at Kauffman Stadium, and because it was a “family fun night” we paid at total of $25 (plus about $5 in fees) for two decent seats and $5 credit per ticket at the concession stands. Throw in $10 for parking, that was $40, but I used our two receipts to get a $10 beer for free. (Then used the same receipts to get another $10 beer because the guys at the first concession stand didn’t know what they were doing and failed to scan them in).

    The Royals lost a close one to the division leaders and one of the better teams in baseball, with baseball’s best player (Cabrera). Kansas City has lost all five games I attended so far this year. (shrug). Has that crushed my soul, or made me less likely to go to several more games this year? Nah.

    KC is still one of the youngest teams in the league and has plenty of potential to get better. I don’t mind sitting at the front of an empty bandwagon … there’s a lot more room to stretch out that way. If they never each their potential or challenge for a pennant, life will go on and I’ll still have my Royals paraphernalia right next to the Cornhuskers neon light, T-Bones pennant, Chiefs helmet and Kansas Speedway flag in my man cave.

    I work in a stressful environment that often leaves my head spinning at the end of the day. It’s nice to be able to come home, crack open a cold one and be swept away from the daily grind for a few hours by watching guys hitting a ball or making a tackle or turning left a bunch of times. Does any of that matter in the big picture? It depends on who you ask. Without sports my world would be a lot more boring, so I guess it matters to me. If you’re not into that kind of thing, that’s your call.

    Now pardon me while I go set the DVR to record Tiger playing in the first round of the U.S. Open tomorrow. It’s shaping up to be an interesting weekend.

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