Anyone who still roots for the home teams deserves the owners' contempt.

Fan Scam 

Anyone who still roots for the home teams deserves the owners' contempt.

When teams perform as poorly as the Royals and the Chiefs have in recent years, bored fans resort to debating what constitutes a real sports fan. Is it the guy who graciously rises from his seat behind the Royals' dugout to applaud the dejected home pitcher shuffling from the mound after chucking sixteen consecutive balls? Or is it the person four rows back who roundly boos the vanquished pitcher as well as the manager who failed to remove him after ball eight?

One reader, upset with one of my columns criticizing the Chiefs, wrote, "You must have been an abused child, because you sure have a lot of negativity and bitterness inside of you." Another reader, livid about a column I penned about the Royals, responded, "Once again your garbage of a column speaks for itself. What in the history of Kansas City sports could ever make someone so bitter towards the two best things this entire town has going for it: the Chiefs and the Royals?"

As long as some fans happily bury their heads in $9 nachos, David Glass and Lamar Hunt will have supporters for their incompetence. These fans are part of the problem. The best fans are unwilling to quietly watch their teams dwindle into abject failure.

Such fans will not only voice their displeasure on sports-talk radio shows or in letters to the editor but also refuse to spend hard-earned bucks on tickets until the franchise rights itself and is competitive.

Team owners don't feel much loyalty toward nice people. What they understand are fans who don't show up on game day.

It was only because fans stayed away from ballparks after the 1994 players' strike that baseball began to consider fans' needs and wants. If you choose to blindly root for the Royals and Chiefs and overlook obvious faults, that's your prerogative. I'd rather demand excellence from my favorite teams -- in the draft, on the field and in the front office. Excuses are for losers. The Royals and Chiefs do not have to be losers.

I have followed these two franchises since they became part of Kansas City in the 1960s. The Chiefs participated in two of the first four Super Bowls, but the team hasn't been back. The Royals built a reputation as a winner and a model franchise shortly after arriving in 1969. It sickens me to see how far Hunt and Glass have allowed these teams to fall.

A reader scolded me after a column earlier this month about the Royals. "In the days after the Royals signed [Mike Sweeney], their best player since George Brett, all you can do is put the franchise down," wrote the reader. "This column should have been a celebration, rejoicing over the Royals and how they signed the closest thing we have to a hero in this sports town," he added.

The signing of Mike Sweeney to a semi-long-term contract with the Royals is the result of people's willingness to bitch and moan about the sudden departures of popular players Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye. While Glass has no problem begging voters for $300 million to upgrade the Truman Sports Complex, he wouldn't ante up the going rate for those two talented young players. If every fan had sat back silently and politely golf-clapped as Damon and Dye left town, Glass would have had no reason to appease us by paying Sweeney $55 million to keep him here.

Kansas City fans are incredibly easy on their sports teams. How else do you explain Tony Muser? But a growing faction of spectators demand a decent product in exchange for the money and time they invest. They are the real fans.

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