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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

The perfect era for fans of local teams

From Manhattan to Columbia, sports are thriving like never before
Carter Schaffer
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II and tight end Travis Kelce amp up the city during the Super Bowl LVIII victory parade in Kansas City, Missouri on Feb. 14. The Chiefs won the 58th Super Bowl in overtime 25-22.

Editor’s note: Fixed all Columbia typos.

“Who’s got it better than us?” Jim Harbaugh, former head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, asked his team. “Nobody!”

The Harbaughs, one of the greatest football coaching families, have latched onto this phrase. While they have it quite well, some in fact do have it better: the sports fans of the Midwest, specifically those in Kansas and Missouri.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ third Super Bowl in the past five years is quite the accomplishment. Kansas and Missouri celebrate their new dynasty, with the Chiefs widely considered the new villain of the NFL. While it can’t get much better than that for local fans, it does.

Major colleges share a tug-of-war of fandoms that coexist as Chiefs fans. Kansas State, Kansas and Missouri all bring their own thriving levels of fandom.

Obvious to residents of the Little Apple, the athletic programs for K-State have risen to new levels. Football is a staple in the Big 12 while women’s basketball is on the rise. The pinnacle of recent K-State sports is the respected and often-quoted gravitas of head coach Jerome Tang. 

While K-State fans may hate it, they must admit their in-state rival and former border rival claim shares of the spotlight as well. 

Kansas basketball may be on a down year, but Lawrence is just two years removed from an NCAA championship. Alongside that, the football team became a more-than-respectable program after disasters for over a decade.

Across the border, the Missouri Tigers’ success is less overwhelming, but still there. The Tigers grasped a New Year’s Six bowl victory and may have a legitimate chance to contend in a hectic SEC next season.

All three college programs and the Chiefs bring joy to local fans, but that’s not all. The Kansas City Royals, while often ridiculed, won the 2015 World Series. On top of that, the organization seems on the rise with a strong offseason with the signing of potential superstar Bobby Witt to an 11-year deal.

Again, there is so much more. Soccer in Kansas City is no joke. Sporting KC just made a run to the conference semifinals this postseason and won the MLS Cup in 2013. KC Current made a run to the NWSL in 2022, just its second year as a team.

The nearly 250 miles of sports between Manhattan and Columbia, Missouri, witnessed a wide variety of sports magnificence in the past decade or so. While the big cities in the United States are often thought to have a monopoly on athletic greatness, the Midwest is keeping up just fine.

Outside of the 250-mile radius, fans of other Midwestern teams also revel in their success. Without an NHL team, many Kansas Citians raise their banners in support of the St. Louis Blues — a team that took home the 2019 Stanley Cup.

Another major sports league without a Kansas City representative is the NBA. Residents may split in which team they root for, but the closest teams include the 2023 NBA Champion Denver Nuggets and the top two seeds in the Western Conference — the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 2021 Champion Milwaukee Bucks can be added to that list, in addition to the sometimes-relevant Chicago Bulls — yet another selection of dominating teams.

Fans who root for Kansas City teams, any of the three major universities or nearby Midwestern teams, have a lot to be thankful for, especially the younger crowd. This era of sports in our region is something few have experienced. 

For those invested in K-State, a title has yet to grace Manhattan. Nevertheless, the era of K-State sports is only on the rise as it matches up against local prominence. With so many young stars and excellent coaching leaders, this may become the greatest time ever to cheer for players in purple.

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About the Contributors
Luke Lazarczyk
Luke Lazarczyk, sports writer
Sports editor for 2023-24. Previously sports editor for 2022-23 and writer for 2021-22.
Carter Schaffer
Carter Schaffer, editor-in-chief
EIC for 2023-24. Previously EIC for 2022-23 and writer and photographer for spring 2022.
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