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Greg Echlin

To open the NFL season against Tennessee Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs have high hopes.  They’re coming off a playoff season with an 11-5 regular season record. But the look of this year’s team is different.

Mike Gunnoe / Sporting Kansas City

As a player for Sporting Kansas City, Erik Palmer-Brown of Lee’s Summit, Mo., is in the big leagues. But at 17, his story is different than any of his teammates.

Palmer-Brown is living a life that most kids his age only dream of. A defender, he last saw action in a friendly match at Sporting Park against Manchester City (July 23) from the English Premier League.

“It was just really fun to be out there against the best team in England right now,” said Palmer-Brown after the match.

Beth Lipoff / KCUR

Labor Day, envisioned as a national tribute to America’s workers, has really come to mean one thing: “Get back to work. Summer’s over.” There’s a parade, a picnic, a telethon, and then the focus turns to fall. Swimming pools close. Any schools that didn’t start class weeks ago are finally in session. And, of course, no more wearing white.

Michael Zupon / Flickr-CC

There's good reason to be excited about the Kansas City Royals right now. The team is in a pennant race for the playoffs for the first time since 1985, and it actually looks like they have a good chance to move on.

John Reiger / FC Kansas City

Move over, Royals – there's another local team that's hot right now.

Women's soccer club FC Kansas City will play the Seattle Reign at 2 p.m. CST Sunday in the National Women's Soccer League championship after beating the Portland Thorns last weekend in the semi-finals.

"We got knocked out early last year in the semi-finals at home against Portland, so we avenged that loss," says Scott Levinson, vice president of business operations. "The whole goal and mission for the team this year was to finish what we started last year, which is win a championship."

Beth Lipoff/KCUR

In sports, we teach kids valuable lessons like, “Winning isn’t everything. The most important thing is that you did your best.” But if you’re a pro athlete, that goes out the window. Your job is to win.

On Friday's Up to Date, we look at the psychology of the clubhouse in a pennant race as the Royals gear up for possibly their first post-season appearance in a generation. We also hear from a team official about what it feels like to be at the K these days.


Bob Motley, a 91-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., has lived through remarkable times in our history.

His story is one of a black man in love with baseball. Racial integration didn't come to the major leagues until 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color line at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

But it was another 19 years before a black man, Emmett Ashford, appeared behind home plate. In the interim, black umpires called balls and strikes in the Negro League.

Kyle Engman (Creative Commons)

Quarterback Matt Cassel returned to Arrowhead Stadium Saturday night for the first time since he played for the Kansas City Chiefs two years ago.  Cassel jump-started the Minnesota Vikings In their 30-12 exhibition win over the Chiefs.

Cassel was the focal point of the frustration that Chiefs fans felt two years ago when the team was 2-14.

When there were cheers after Matt Cassel was injured two years ago, it brought out the wrath at the time of his teammate Eric Winston.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

You may have heard that the Royals are doing really well. They are 15 games over .500, and are first in the AL Central. They're doing so well they made the cover of this weeks' regional Sports Illustrated

"September is coming, and for the first time in nearly 30 years it will matter in Kansas City," the headline reads. That hasn't happened since the last time the team made the playoffs: 1985, when the Royals went on to win the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

SungWoo Lee, a devout Kansas City Royals fan who traveled to Kansas City from South Korea, attended the final game of his trip Wednesday night.

It has been a trip packed with good memories. SungWoo Lee met the Kansas City Royals players. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday night, then flashed the big W after the win that enabled the Royals to move into first place in the American League Central.

As he wandered through the stands before the last game of his trip, fans who had heard or read about him wanted their pictures taken with him.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

In the early morning hours of Aug. 12, boaters paddled into the Missouri River from Kaw Point in Kansas City, Kan., the launch site of the MR340. The ultra-marathon race offers participants only 88 hours to finish a voyage across Missouri.

The creator and organizer of the MR340, Scott Mansker, thinks what draws people from all over the world to take part in the race is that challenge of overcoming obstacles.

The Kansas City Royals took over first place in the American League Central and lead Detroit by a half-game.

They defeated the Oakland Athletics, 3-2, Monday night for their eighth win in a row.

Before Royals closer Greg Holland nailed down the game’s final out, the final score of the Tigers game flashed on the outfield wall scoreboard: Pittsburgh 11, Detroit 6.

Then Royals centerfielder Jarrod Dyson used his lightning speed to flag down a fly ball for the final out. To mark the moment, Dyson did a backflip.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

There will be some changes in the Arrowhead Stadium parking areas Thursday night for the Kansas City Chiefs exhibition opener.

The Chiefs kick off at 7 p.m. against the Cincinnati Bengals, and fans entering the Truman Sports Complex at Gate 5 better have their parking pass ready — there will be no cash accepted at Gate 5.

Once inside the gates, fans will notice all the cars traveling in one counterclockwise direction. Chiefs president Mark Donovan said he is braced for fans who might have trouble adjusting to the changes, but asks for patience.

Daniel Juřena / Flickr--CC

High school athletes in Kansas and Missouri start outdoor workouts for fall sports in August, no matter how hot or humid it is outside. One of the main safety concerns in the heat is dehydration. 

Sometimes it’s not the weather but what the athletes drink that makes the problem worse. A can of Red Bull, Monster, 5-Hour Energy, or any other energy drink before practice can dehydrate an athlete.

Rybass / Wikimedia Commons

Last week in a coffee shop, I saw two young men, each with single name emblazoned on his chest. The first one read, “Jesus.” The other? “LeBron.” Because, hey—every savior deserves his own T-shirt.

The biggest sports news of the summer is the second coming of NBA superstar LeBron James—specifically from the Miami Heat back to the Cleveland Cavaliers and his native northeast Ohio. The national media has been giddy over his maturity and grace in trading the Sun Belt for the Rust Belt and a mere $42 million over the next two years.

Before Thursday night’s 14-inning victory, 2-1, over Cleveland, the Kansas City Royals honored one of their former behind-the-scenes figures.

Al Zych, who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., was the Kansas City Athletics equipment manager from 1963 until the team departed for Oakland four years later. Zych then became the Royals equipment manager from the franchise’s first year in 1969 until 1988.

George Brett called Zych one of his best friends during his Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech in 1999.

Long term commitment or not? That’s the question with a few of the biggest sports stars in Kansas City.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex reports to training camp this week without a contract beyond this season. On the other hand, Sporting Kansas City locked up their two biggest stars for the long haul.

Before Sporting Kansas City took the field in their Saturday match at Livestrong Park against the Los Angeles Galaxy, the announcement came out that Matt Besler and Graham Zusi agreed to four-year extensions with the team.

Kieth Allison / Flickr--CC

Over the past week, there was much ado about the marquis players in sports; Lebron James signed a contract with Cleveland and baseball showcased its stars in the All-Star game.

Heading into Friday night’s game at Boston, the Kansas City Royals are in transition as to who their biggest stars are. 

Just two years ago at the All-Star game in Kansas City, Billy Butler was in the midst of his most productive year with 29 homers and 107 runs driven in as the Royals designated hitter. He was the toast of the town as the Royals All-Star — this year Butler has only three homers.

In the Midwest, it’s not customary for fans and Kansas City Royals players to pull for anyone on the New York Yankees. Except for the last two years in the All-Star game.

Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is injured with sprained wrist and couldn’t play in this year’s All-Star game, but one of the reasons he still made the trip to Minneapolis, Minn., was to be part of the American League team that would bid its farewell to New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.

On the day before the All-Star break, the Kansas City Royals scored a first for this season. Until Sunday, the Royals were not able to beat the Detroit Tigers at home. They were 0-and-6 before Sunday’s 5-2 victory.

Royals designated hitter Bill knows how quick the season can turn.

“Nothing ever seems to be easy against them (the Tigers),” said Butler. “We can play as good baseball as we can. We were playing really good when we went into their place. I think that’s the way they feel right now.”

Sporting Kansas City / YouTube


Of the 32 national soccer teams that made it to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup this year, Germany and Argentina will face off at 2 p.m. Sunday.

KCUR has been covering soccer fans cheering on their teams since the tournament began about a month ago.  (See our recent coverage on how international communities living in Kansas City are rooting for their teams.)

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The soccer craze in the Kansas City area wasn’t just captured in the Power & Light District watch parties for the World Cup games.

It’s evident on full-size soccer fields on both sides of the state line. But the metropolitan area's newest soccer passion may be churning up on mini-courts in Kansas City, Kan.

Frank Morris / KCUR

At least 13,000 fans chanting “I believe that we will win!” jammed the central common area of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo., to cheer on the U.S. men's soccer team Tuesday in their World Cup match against Belgium.

Many were literally waving the American flag. Even more were wearing it.

Miguel Torres, in a red-white-and-blue top hat, beads and body paint, came out to support the country as much as the team.

When the U.S. plays Belgium in the knockout round of the World Cup soccer tournament Tuesday, three female Kansas City soccer players plan to watch the match together.

They’ll be paying extra attention to Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler. The three women have a connection with the Overland Park, Kan., native that stretches back a few years.

Most of the attention on soccer lately has focused on the action in Brazil, but the day before the U.S. match against Portugal, Jen Buczkowski took care of her own business on the soccer field.

Local American Indians On The Chiefs' Name

Jun 30, 2014
Flickr, .sanden.

The U.S. Patent Office revoked the Washington Redskins’ trademark, which has some Kansas City sports fans concerned about the fate of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last year the National Congress of American Indians released a report that included the Chiefs in a list of sports teams they said profited from harmful stereotypes.

Richard Lanoue, President of the Indian Council of Many Nations which is based in Kansas City, doesn’t see it that way. Lanoue says the term “redskins” is racially disparaging but "chief" is different.

For the first time since 1988, a member of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team was the overall No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins Thursday night with that top pick.  Teammate Joel Embiid went third overall to the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Though some feel Wiggins disappeared in KU’s last game of the season against Stanford in the NCAA tournament, he was clearly visible when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced him as the top pick.

Jonnybsay / Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month the University of Kansas athletics department announced that Section U, a 120-seat area of Allen Fieldhouse previously reserved for students, would be reallocated to donor seating. The decision was a direct response to an attempt by the Student Senate to cut the mandatory athletics fee charged to all KU students.

On Thursday's, Up to Date, we talk with student reporter Ben Carroll for a look at the timeline of events leading up to the decision and how it's being perceived by Jayhawk fans.

Nearly two years after Major League Baseball All-Star activities took place in Kansas City, the impact of the event has had a residual effect.

In 2012, the only thing on the mind of the fans was the distance of the homers for the Homerun Derby at Kauffman Stadium. But after a portion of the money from that day’s All-Star activities was devoted to the construction of baseball fields for people with disabilities, families of the kids with disabilities feel that the community has hit a homerun.

Beth Lipoff / KCUR

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk with Sporting KC player, Chance Myers, for insight on team USA's strategy to move on to the next round and one step closer to the championship.

Courtesy Bella Napoli.

  Italy didn’t even end up in the top four spots in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. For a nation that’s obsessed with soccer, that was basically an utter failure.

This time around, the Azzurri, as the Italian team is known by its fans, started the World Cup with a strong victory over England. 

Last Saturday evening, about two dozen mostly blue-clad fans of Italy’s men’s soccer team crowded into Brookside restaurant Bella Napoli to chow on pizzas, tapas and other authentic Italian food from the menu while watching their team defeat England 2-1.