Today is the last day of the Kansas City Wizards. By all indications the team will be renamed Sporting Kansas City (or some variation) this evening at Power and Light District. While this is not a decision I would have probably made, I do not hate it. At least not anymore.
In fact it is growing on me. I have heard some of the reasons behind the change and I am looking forward to hearing the rest of the logic. Interestingly, listening to fans complain about the change has actually made me lean more towards acceptance. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, hearing the depth of angst and hatred about the change made me realize something. The team name does not matter quite so much.
There is an old saying, "the name on the front of the jersey is what really matters, not the name on the back." In this case we are not sure what name (sponsor) will eventually be there but we do know the name of the team will contain Kansas City and that is what matters.
Kansas City. One of the few things that pulls people together in this city is sports.
Kansas City Wiz, Wizards, Sporting...
For me personally, the Wiz/Wizards/Sporting is one of the few teams I root for in Kansas City. I was not born here and already rooted for non Kansas City teams in other sports when I moved here a long time ago.
A few years after I moved here I chose the Wiz (now that was a bad name) when they were born. On a cold day in late 1995 or early 1996 I went to Arrowhead and picked out my seats over my lunch hour. I brought along two friends from work, one later became my wife (score). The poor ticket sales guy patiently stood there while we chatted and I picked exactly the right seats. I sat in those cold hard plastic seats for several minutes day dreaming of the team to be formed.
I did not know that I would someday watch Preki work his magic on the home field. I did not know that I would watch Mo use his stubborn Scottish nature to win games. I did not know that I would see spectacular saves from Meola and Hartman in that stadium. I did not know the countless other fantastic plays and players that would become rich memories for me.
I did know that those memories would happen though.
The Wiz became the Wizards in a forced but good move rather quickly.
My coworker and friend became my girlfriend and later my wife and eventually the mother of my daughter. Her name and appearance changed over time, I did not stop loving her.
My life is here now, my family is here. My daughter went to her first Wizards game on the outside when she was a month old. My wife was nervous that the noise would bother her but she happily sat in our arms, seemingly loving the noise, the cheers. She would dance and bounce to the drums as she got older. We became friends with others around us and around the stadium.
My daughter now knows the players by name and number and is starting to get an understanding of how the game actually works. She learned at an early age that favorite players do not always stay. In fact for a while it was not a good idea to be picked as her favorite player if you wanted to be in Kansas City.
She is now learning that teams sometimes change names. In fact she was more accepting of the name change for the team that existed her entire life than I was. I explained to her that the name was changing and it was still our team, our players, our family and friends at the game. I explained all of that because I was afraid she would be devastated at her favorite team changing names.
I told her all this. She asked if she could still call them the Wizards sometimes. I said yes and she seemed okay with that. She then took lunch to school in her Wizards lunch box the next day.
They are still my team. I've survived horrible weather to watch this team. I persevered through horrendous play, refereeing, shoot out clocks, zardmeisters, closed concession stands and countless other irritations. I will survive through the name change.
Stadium, players, uniforms, logo, shirt sponsor (?) and name. All new next year.
Still Kansas City...
Still my team...
Go Wiz/Wizards/Sporting/ Blue !!
Trivia question: Can anyone guess who the ticket sales person was that I made stand in the cold?