I first became a Chiefs season ticket holder in 1989. I had just graduated from college and gotten my first full time job. I had money to burn and had been a suffering Chiefs fan for years. That season, the Chiefs had just hired GM Carl Peterson who then hired head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Season tickets were at an all time low because of the miserable decade the team had just gone through. My tickets are located mid-field, about halfway up the upper level. Great seats for football.
I don’t remember exactly what the tickets cost then, but I believe the seats were around the $28-30 range. The Chiefs then began their resurgence. Marty’s teams consistently won and made the playoffs. The 90’s were a great decade for Chiefs fans. Season ticket sales went through the roof, and there was a long waiting list for tickets. In Peterson’s 15 years of running the team, they have consistently won just enough games to hold the interest of the fans, but have failed to have success in the post season. They reached the AFC title game with Joe Montana, but that’s as far as they have made it. Building on the success of the team, and the fact that Arrowhead Stadium had become THE place to be on Sundays, the Chiefs have raised their ticket prices each season. This year, my seats cost $59 each, and parking is now $20 per car.
This season, the Chiefs have suffered through their worst season in years. As of today, the team is 4-8 and the defense is woefully bad. The defensive problems were apparent last season, but the Chiefs rode some spectacular kick returns to a 13-3 record and a home playoff game. The Colts came to town, the defense never forced a punt. It was another first round loss for the Chiefs and fans’ frustrations were beginning to mount.
Even though the Chiefs’ defense ranked last in the league in 2003, Peterson chose to retain all the defensive players. Instead, he fired defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and re-hired Gunther Cunningham. The mantra at the time was that the players were good, but the scheme was bad.
In 2004, again the defense is near the bottom of the league. Except this year, those fortunate bounces have not occurred. The offense is still the best in the league, but the defense can’t stop anybody. The fans are up in arms about a team that stood pat in the off season when it was so obvious that defensive personnel changes were needed.
Kansas City’s talk radio hosts began criticizing Peterson, and the callers have been doing the same. They believe that the team has been unfairly raising ticket prices and not improving the team on the field.
Which leads me to Rufus Dawes.
Rufus Dawes is a pseudonym for a columnist who writes for the Chiefs’ web site, kcchiefs.com. The Dawes column typically appears after a media person has criticized the team, and the column attempts to explain the issue from the Chiefs’ side of the story. Nobody knows for sure who exactly the writer is. Some think it’s a PR person writing what Carl Peterson has asked him to write.
I have always had a problem with Rufus Dawes. First, when you run a professional football team, you are going to be criticized by the media and the fans. I think that one requirement would be to continue to do what you feel is right without letting those criticisms bother you. The existence of the Dawes columns shows that the media is getting under somebody’s skin at the Chiefs. My other issue is that even if you do want to respond to the media, don’t hide behind a pseudonym. If you feel you are right, come out and say it. Defend your position.
But this time, Rufus has gone too far. The latest Dawes column appeared on the front page of kcchiefs.com on Tuesday (12/7/04). The title is “Sports Talk Caller.” In it, Dawes bashes sports talk radio hosts and the listeners who call into those sports talk radio shows. Here are some quotes:
“A normal human being, wrote the British novelist and essayist George Orwell, is a mix of the noble and the ignoble, “of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.” Sports Bar Man, or Sports Talk Caller, is what Orwell referred to as the Sancho Panza type, who, he writes, covets “soft beds, no work, pots of beer, and women with ‘voluptuous’ figures.” If Mr. Orwell were with us today he would no doubt see the similarities.”
“Sports Talk Caller is ruled by his appetites and inclinations, among them ball – any kind of ball – and the notoriety he believes comes from being heard on the radio. Sports Talk Caller has such a flimsy sense of self that he derives his identity from listening to or being heard on a radio station.”
The column concludes by bashing two of the most popular sports talk show hosts in Kansas City, and then closes with this paragraph:
“Sport was once thought to bring out the best in people. Sports talk radio does just the opposite. It delights in negativity; it tears down sports institutions and sports people. And it does one more thing: it requires its primary listener, Sports Talk Caller, to pay attention to individuals whose lives are no more interesting than his own.”
So, here is a column on the official Kansas City Chiefs web site, that accuses sports talk radio listeners and callers of having a “flimsy sense of self” and who are lazy beer drinkers who love to look at women with “voluptuous figures.” (Fortunately for us, the Chiefs employ a squad of cheerleaders for us to view).
Okay, I’m confused. If I’m a person who listens to or calls sports talk radio, then I must be a fan of the local sports teams. If I’m a fan of the local sports teams, then I am likely to have spent some money to see the team, or to wear a team’s jersey. And yet, that very team is insulting me? This is ridiculous.
I’ve never called into a radio show, but I do listen to those shows every day. I love hearing about the teams that I enjoy watching. And now the Chiefs are insulting me. This year, I spent over $1,000 on tickets alone. That total does not include the parking money, or the money we’ve spent on hot dogs, beers, caps, and jerseys.
Of course, this has caused uproar amongst those radio talk shows and its listeners. The Chiefs claimed yesterday that they removed the column, but it is still there this morning. (see it here)
In what industry could a company insult the very customers who sustain it and get away with it? I would hope no industry could. I don’t think this company should get away with it either. That is why I am writing this letter to Carl Peterson:
Dear Mr. Peterson,
I am writing you to notify you that I am a season ticket holder who has just become a former season ticket holder.
I had been considering relinquishing my tickets for the last couple of years, but today I have made my decision.
What put me over the top? Rufus Dawes. Rufus says that I have a “flimsy sense of self” and that I covet “soft beds, no work, pots of beer.” Really? My household also makes over $150,000 a year and has spent a good amount of that money at Arrowhead Stadium. No more.
I will never again pay $20 to park my car. I will never again pay $7.00 for a beer. I will never again pay $60 to sit in the cold watching a football team that chooses to insult its fans.
Rufus thinks he was talking about Sports Talk Callers. But aren’t Sport Talk Callers also sports fans? And don’t fans pay the salaries of the Chiefs players, coaches and executives?
I don’t know who Rufus Dawes is, but since he only appears at kcchiefs.com, I must assume he represents the Chiefs’ point of view. And if the Chiefs think that I am a “complete idiot,” then this idiot doesn’t need to spend any more of his money on the Chiefs.