For fans in the Kansas City area, sports victories feel inevitable. Let’s appreciate them.

The Kansas Reflector welcomes submissions from writers who share our goal of broadening the conversation about how public policies affect the daily lives of people in our state. Eric Thomas directs the Kansas Scholastic Press Association and teaches visual journalism and photojournalism at the University of Kansas.

Sunday night I sat on the couch with a cocktail in hand watching Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes trot down the field. Trailing the Los Angeles Chargers by four, Kansas City had to drive 75 yards in the final 1:46 to score a touchdown. A field goal would not have been enough.

And yet there I was, lounging on the couch.

I wasn’t pacing the room. I didn’t check the probability of a Chiefs win. Like many other fans of Kansas City-area teams over the past decade, I waited for my team’s predestined victory.

Supporting regional teams for the past 10 years has been like that old video game, Frogger — only without the caption. We’ve crossed paths, from one team’s joy to another’s championship.

While the Royals were collapsing, Sporting Kansas City topped their league. While Sporting was disappearing, the Chiefs were increasing. When the Chiefs lost in the playoffs, the Jayhawks won in March Madness. If you’re willing to ditch your fervent affection for one team in decline for another on the rise, the Kansas City area is the place to become a fan.

My 13 year old has really never known the darkness of life in a sports swamp. Exempted from a day off from school in 2015, he boarded a bus to downtown Kansas City to see the Royals’ World Series parade.

Four years later, we watched as bosses boarded double-decker buses for their own celebration. Sporting KC offered us a chance to see two players who represented the United States at the World Cup. Kansas City pro sports has offered him a brilliant local team at all times.

This year, he also followed the Jayhawks men’s basketball team from his bracket to the championship. The University of Kansas’ streak of dominance in Big 12 basketball has bordered on the absurd over the past decade, and even before. Big 12 basketball teams can win the regular season title, the conference tournament title, or both. The Jayhawks have won or shared the regular season title 20 times. The remaining 11 teams? Only 11 titles in total. In the conference tournament, a format that far more easily knocks off better teams with one bad result, the Jayhawks have still won almost half.

(And who would have thought the 2022 football Jayhawks would make this eye-popping turn of the season?)

It wasn’t always like that. The Royals and Chiefs have put fans through long stretches of misery. To call the futility that surrounded the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 seasons simply “losing seasons” understates the dismal nature of those teams. Since 2002, Royals fans have endured six seasons of 100 or more losses.

It wasn’t always like that. The Royals and Chiefs have put fans through long stretches of misery. To call the futility that surrounded the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 seasons simply “losing seasons” understates the dismal nature of those teams. Since 2002, Royals fans have endured six seasons of 100 or more losses.

Likewise, the Chiefs argue that an era of dark football has arrived – especially compared to the current golden era. The latter teams are unprecedentedly hot, winning a record six consecutive AFC West Division titles. They are ready to win another. Over the past seven seasons (excluding this one), the Chiefs have won 83 games.

Here’s your trivia question: How many seasons would it take to get 83 wins if you start counting in 1972? The answer: 14 — a double number during the Andy Reid era.

Think of the mental drain of living in a city that loses so often. And think how invincible it makes us feel to have a regional winner at all times.

It can certainly lead us to arrogance. Or, as I experienced Sunday while watching Mahomes rally the Chiefs, it breeds a chilling confidence, a calm confidence that we fans needn’t worry. Everything will be fine. We believe we will win.

With less than two minutes to go, Mahomes threw one pass and then another to unravel the Chargers defense. The touchdown by tight end Travis Kelce felt less like surprise fan euphoria and more like deja vu. Like Lorenzo Cain making a circus catch in the outfield in 2015. Like opening a sports app on our phones to find Sporting KC advancing in their tournament. Like Bill Self smiling as he climbed the ladder to knock down the nets.

The danger with a run like this is that you forget to enjoy it. Just ask the fans in Detroit, with four major sports teams, most of which fail to post winning records, much less advance meaningfully in the playoffs.

Cincinnati, despite three Super Bowl appearances, does not have a single trophy. Add that to Cincinnati’s woes: the hapless Reds who haven’t won their division in 10 years.

This is what I want from you as fellow fans. Unleash all your superstitions to continue this streak. Do not wash your lucky socks. Drive the same way to the stadium every week. Eat the same meal before a game of sauerkraut and bratwurst.

But whatever you do, don’t close your eyes. It’s too rare—and fun—to pass up.

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