The Fly Route
Lamar Hunt was 26 when he started a professional football team.
Sort of gets you thinking, huh?
Well, at least it gets me thinking. Sure Hunt had so many things that the rest of us don't, and sure most of those things were dollar bills, and sure watching a football game -- much less starting a league -- would have been possible without a fortune, but wow ... 26.
I'm 24, and to date I've started two sports leagues in my lifetime, both of the fantasy baseball and football variety. The first, when I was 13, was an unmitigated disaster. I had a draft, collected $5 from all the participants, then quickly realized how difficult and bothersome fantasy football is without the aide of a computer or the Internet.
The next go around it was a baseball league when I was 19, and I was much more successful. While only a few of my friends were trusting enough to hand over another $5, we got enough, and the league thrived.
Sure Hunt had a massive bankroll that would have survived a failure -- even one the magnitude of my first fantasy league -- but the ambition and drive it must have taken to start such an endeavor at 26 truly amazes me.
It's certainly something to remember this week as we head into 2007 and we each are filled with similar ambition.
Pledging to jog once a day, study harder or eat less fast food is certainly far different from convincing a group of billionaires to spend a few million on a football league, but how many of us will possess the same conviction toward our yearly goals that Hunt possessed even into his last year?
I hope I can, but I've hoped that before.
That's only one of the lessons that can be drawn from the Kansas City-area sports scene now as we look back.
It really was a rough year here in the Midwest, and rough times typically mean good lessons.
That Buck O'Neil was recently posthumously honored by President Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom shows that we haven't yet forgotten the lessons O'Neil taught, but they're going to grow more faint by the day.
The next 12 months will almost certainly bring a torrent of memorial ideas for both O'Neil and Hunt, and even as a transplant to this area, I can say most will likely be worthy ideas. Brace yourself, though -- there's bound to be some stupid ones.
I think changing the name of the airport is dumb because neither Hunt nor O'Neil had much of anything to do with airplanes.
I think resurrecting the rolling roof idea is dumb because the voters spoke while Hunt was alive, and a weird or bad idea is still that, even when an extra dose of good sentiment is dumped on top.
I think statues at the Truman Sports Complex are a must for both. Those should only be the start though. Neither Hunt nor O'Neil would have stopped at that level in honoring someone they felt deserved it, and they wouldn't have settled on something temporary or tacky either.
In the search for the right answer, I hope everyone shows their conviction, and I hope we all show that conviction and every other lesson we learned from those two. It's the only way to salvage what was otherwise a rotten 2006 for area sports.