OTC: KC Star Debuts New Sports Columnist / KU Wins Women’s Track Title

“I’d studied (the KU/MU rivalry), interviewed people about it and been here enough over 25 years that I thought I had a sense of that pulse. Yet it’s evident I’ve got a lot more to learn about the depths of that — not to mention plenty of other things about the area.”
Vahe Gregorian, new sports columnist for The Kansas City Star
GH: Gregorian chose the topic of calling for reviving the MU/KU rivalry for his first Kansas City Star sports column. An excellent choice when you consider the role of a sports columnist is to invoke conversation, opinion and buzz about the columns he writes. But it seemed too easy and too vague for my acerbic tastes in columns. This column could have waited a week – and added more punch from his St. Louis perspective. His first column needed to make me care about who I am reading. Tell me who you are, Vahe. What’s with that name? How does Kansas City look from up close as compared to your longtime view from St. Louis? Are you a fan of any teams or has the journalism business dried all your sports passion from your fingers? Why did you make the move? What do your STL peeps think about you heading west? What are your goals as a KC sports columnist? Who is the big cheese at the Star’s sports desk – you (as the old guy) or Mellinger (as the established guy)? I have lots of questions. You up for an OTC interview? Let’s talk.

“Still, this much I can tell already: Something fundamental is missing from the Kansas City sports scene right now, and not just because the Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game since 1994 and the Royals haven’t since beating the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series.”
Vahe Gregorian, Kansas City Star
GH: If you have not read Gregorian’s column, here is the link. As a Nebraska guy with little blood in the Border War, I LOVED the sucker! I missed it when it went away and I still miss it now. I pine that my Missouri-born boys will never really comprehend what that sports rivalry meant for so many generations. But the KU and MU fans I know are not as bothered by its sudden ending. Both schools are too proud to state they need (or want) each other when it comes to scheduling. So, is something “fundamentally missing from the Kansas City sports scene?” Not really. MU is very, very happy in the SEC and KU is adamant that the state of Missouri no longer exists.

“Like each other or not, Mizzou and Kansas have to start playing each other again. Soon. It’s bigger than the institutions themselves, or the current leaderships and decisions they’ve made. It’s about the very underpinnings of the area, essential to the tapestry and part of the DNA in sports and beyond.”
Vahe Gregorian, Kansas City Star
GH: I hear you, Vahe. But each season that passes where these two stubborn rivals refuse to acknowledge they need to play each other in all sports – not just football and hoops – it will be easier to let this once great border war morph into what Nebraska and Oklahoma has become – nostalgia.

“No matter who or what you want to blame for the rivalry abruptly going dormant, all the fan teasing and taunting and hatred and humor that had a tangible epicenter simply rings hollow now.”
Vahe Gregorian, Kansas City Star
GH: I don’t think there is anything hollow about the taunts and teasing between the fans of these great schools. What made the Kansas / Missouri rivalry a 365-day-a-year event is they enjoy each other’s failures almost as much as their gains. Mizzou’s stumbles out of the SEC gate has fueled Kansas fans like news of a Bill Self five-star recruit. The same for Mizzou fans when it comes to KU not winning a Big 12 football game and basically stinking in just about every men’s sport not called basketball. These two schools don’t need to play each other to taunt each other. They just need to exist and the barbs will fly.

“Nothing’s ever easy,” said head coach Stanley Redwine, who joked that not long ago the women’s team was finishing 13th in the Big 12. “But we knew we had a team with the potential to win championships, and that was our goal. We all knew we had to come together and do it because it’s not about one athlete or one coach. It was a total team effort.”
Matt Tait, writer, on the KU women winning the outdoor track and field national championship, KUSports.com
GH: I believe this is the first national championship for a KU women’s team. That is very, very cool.

“The history of KU track is great. It’s old. And it needed to be updated. … KU track’s back on the map. I think people know that. And I’m wearing this (national championship) hat everywhere so people will recognize me.”
Andrea Geubelle, KU’s top point scorer, a senior who contributed 16 points to the team total of 60 with second-place finishes in the long and triple jump, KUSports.com
GH: Kansas is building a state-of-the-art outdoor track and field stadium on campus. Part of the reasoning is so they can renovate the football stadium and place the stands closer to the field. But this national title combined with a new track stadium should bolster KU’s resume as a place where great track athletes can come to win championships.

“We were joking when we saw the tweet. We were like, ‘Well, I hope it’s free because nobody’s gonna pay.’ So when we walked in and we saw people we didn’t know, that was huge. It was great that there were more than five people.”
Andrea Geubelle, on the gathering of “nearly 500 fans” inside Allen Fieldhouse Sunday to greet the national champs, KUSports.com
GH: I attended the Missouri Relays, The KU Relays and The Drake Relays all within the last few months. The Missouri Relays need a serious overhaul in every phase. They went off like a JV dual meet. The KU Relays are well run but the attendance is awful. The Drake Relays were in a word spectacular. People will come to watch track and field if the events are packaged with the same effort you would expect from a big-time football or basketball game. It will be interesting to see if KU’s women’s title revives that interest in the sport.

“I think we’ll handle it fine. The game got away and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s one you just flush away pretty quick. Hopefully we can put it behind us.”
Coach Brad Hill, on his K-State baseball team dropping the second game of their Super Regional match with Oregon State 12-4, CJonline.com
GH: A trip to Omaha and the CWS is on the line tonight in Corvallis when the Cats take on the Beavers at 9:00 PM (CT) on ESPN2. After watching the game last night, it does not look good for K-State. But isn’t that kind of how the Wildcats like it?

“It’s all just grass.”
David Lough, Royals’ utility outfielder, on the difference between playing right field one day and center or left the next, Fox Sports
GH: D-Lo is quickly becoming my and many Royals’ fans favorite player. If he gets sent down when they activate Jarrod Dyson, there could be an uprising by the fans to rival the Frenchie Revolution.

“People ask me all the time if Bob (Fescoe) believes some of the stuff he says. The good thing about Bob is that he believes them. Whether he is way out there or wrong, he believes it.”
Josh Klingler, 610 AM
GH: Is that really a good thing?

and Twitter / @greghall24

About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.
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30 Responses to OTC: KC Star Debuts New Sports Columnist / KU Wins Women’s Track Title

  1. Kyle Rohde says:

    I’m not sure what can be done to get people to watch a track & field meet. While in college, I worked for EA Sports, and I partnered with KU Athletics to have 10 TV’s all with different EA games set up at the stadium as just one of countless activities KU planned to liven up the event. All those types of things, the cheap admission and the promotion of stars like Maurice Greene running doesn’t drive attendance.

    I think track is like gymnastics – a sport that Americans decide is interesting every four years, and that’s about it.

    I’m curious what you think Drake does to make people care, Greg, or if it’s just another example of states without pro teams supporting lesser sports, like how Nebraska attends all UNL sports in droves.

    • Greg Hall says:

      Kyle, Drake has tradition on its side when it comes to the people of Des Moines coming out and supporting their meet — but it also ran into attendance problems for a few years. Drake invites some big-name athletes and Hy-Vee sponsors some big checks ($25K and $15K) to the winners of many of the events. I do think big-name athletes draw people as well as the venue. KU’s new track will be something that people will want to see. I understand that T&F is a fringe sport that is never going to see the kind of attendance it once did. But I would like to see the KU Relays return to their glory for that one week in April.

  2. nick says:

    I miss the KU/MU rivalry greatly. But what I really miss is the 2 basketball teams playing each other twice in January or February on each other’s noisy home courts, with conference championship implications. A one-off basketball game in early December, likely at Sprint, means squat. The football game at Arrowhead would still have sexiness for a week or two in early September, but again would have zero impact on who wins the Big 12 or SEC.

    Great job by the women Jayhawks!

  3. Richard Cranium says:

    Only one NATIONAL Championship within either of the local teams. Even if it is a woman’s sport, it’s still the only one.

    • Twy's Gibman says:

      I guess you’re not familiar with men’s NCAA high jump champion Erik Kynard.

      • Arte says:

        I’m familar with Erik Kynard. He’s the guy who finished 2nd at the NCAA last week behind champion Derek Douin of Indiana.

  4. Royals Free Out says:

    Wouldn’t “Finished 11th in the Big 12″ been a more accurate humblebrag? Since, yanno, there’s only 10 teams in that conference……

  5. Gavin says:

    Oh goody. More KU-Mizzou troll bait.

  6. Gavin says:

    I think the problem with track meets, and I love watching track & field, especially on TV, is that there is so much dead time and so many different things happening at the same time, it’s hard for a spectator to follow. Even on TV half the stuff is shown on tape delay so you can watch a whole series of pole vaults/high jumps/discus throws/whatevers strung back-to-back because there is so much time between one attempt and the next. Add in the fact that maybe the women’s high jump final is taking place at the same time as the qualifying heat in the men’s 200M and it’s very confusing to watch and there is lots of down time when you do.

    I would absolutely watch more track and field if it was on TV more often but even when it is, so much of it is qualifying heats where the racer isn’t trying to do his best, he’s just trying to go barely fast enough so that he can move on to the next round while still conserving energy. I’m not sure there’s a good way around it.

  7. harwood benjamin says:

    I wouldn’t say the new guy’s column knocked my socks off, but I thought it was a reasonable way to introduce himself–he tells us he’s got some knowledge on the subject of the border war, but in conceding that he didn’t get the depth of feeling about the conflict, he admits to his relative newbie status. One of the things that annoyed me about Posnanski was pretend familiarity with events and icons with which he had no familiarity. Also, unlike GH, I do not like having a new columnist write an “introductory” column that tells readers “here’s who I am and what I am going to do.” It leads to too much Sally Field do-you-like-me pandering and false promises. I’m willing to give the guy several columns to see if he has an interesting point of view. (That doesn’t mean staking out black-or-white positions on the hot sports topic of the moment–most issues are worth getting that worked up about.)

  8. Richard Cranium says:

    Royals Free, you are a bright one. Yep, there’s only ever been 10 teams in the Big 12. Things did happen before 2010, you ignorant slut.

  9. The Smartman says:

    One of my brown rice and Metamucil turds makes a bigger splash than Vahe made. WTF? The KU/MU rivalry is so 90’s. I even read his article using my Lawrence Welk decoder ring and it still didn’t make sense. Mellinger can rest easy now. If this were radio It’d be like bringing Don Fortune back.

    Last time I got excited by track was in 1970 when the girls were able to show some real leg at practice. Spotted my first cameltoe in 1971 at the CYO championships.

  10. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Renewing the MU/KU series. Oooh. Groundbreaking article. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Hey Vahe, over here on the western side of the state, the topic has been discussed ad nauseum. If that’s the best you’ve got, pack up and go back to St Louis.

  11. mike t. says:

    i’d a give a +1 to smartman’s 2:11 comment, but the description of the turd and splash was just too gross. so, +1/2 smartman. please, if it ain’t about beer or bbq, please do not share details about your diet? many thanks.

    meanwhile, i thought the column rather sucked. i get that he had to make some kind of introduction, that he “understood” the fandom around here, but there are a lot of ku and mu fans that have moved on and this, to me anyway, was old news. i’m more in greg’s camp on this one.

  12. FrankM says:

    Vahe need to move farther than St. Louis – please go ahead and leave the entire state.

  13. Johnny Utah says:

    A Politically Correct take on the Border War? yeah nice new ground. Way to become relevant KC Star.

    Of course the Border War is still on. That’s why both sides are still bitter. There just aren’t any regular season games right now.

  14. Orphan of the Road says:

    His first column ever after being a beat reporter, it wasn’t as bad as I originally though.

  15. Ultimate Dude says:

    ku went from “we are Kansas City, MO” to no longer thinking it exists? I realize they think the Chiefs and Royals play in the state of ks, but they will forever have to root for MO pro sports, unless Kietz’s dream of the Cerner boys moving them to Legends comes to fruition. Not likely.

    • Ultimate Dude says:

      Track needs to tone it down. Don’t these people realize how hard running is on your muscles, bones and joints? Everything should be a fast paced walk. Much better cardio, joint and muscle usage without the wear and tear. Science!!

  16. Splitlog Quindaro says:

    I ran in the Drake Relays and have watched it many, many times and it is still one of the top 2-3 track events in the US. Right up there with Penn and Oregon. I am a huge KU fan but the Kansas Relays have slipped because there is not enough interest at Kansas high schools in track. In Iowa… there are varsity cheerleaders at cross country meets… you will get a thousand or two at a Wednesday night track meet. The football and basketball players are in the stands rooting for milers… I am serious. I remember Marlene Ottey at Nebraska, Iowa State had phenomenal Kenyan distance runners.. Baylor was always strong… Jim Ryun was our hero… The Big 12 has a strong track tradition and it is a wonderful sport.

  17. Scott Simon says:

    Haters of Vahe after 1 column are the types that would piss on Joe McGuff’s grave for being a gentlemanly mild-mannered old fart. Summary: Haters hate because they love it but otherwise are pithy and irrelevant, as well as safe in the comfort of their anonymity.

  18. mike t. says:

    scott, don’t lump us all into one hater pot. i simply think he could have picked a better topic than the border war rivalry.

    • Twy's Gibman says:

      I invite Scott to write his own introductory column about why Vahe is great, and maybe describe his own PERSONAL CONNECTION with the new belle of the Star sportswriting ball.

  19. b12 says:

    Vahe is swimming in Sam’s pool right now. Column inches, brah. Knock out the column. Dance around the issue. Present both sides. End with no conclusion. Awesome.

    VG, if you read this…get readers fired up. Compare the Cardinal organization to the Royals. Destroy the small market bs coming from the Glasses. The STL media market is 15-18 depending on who ranks it. KC is 28-32. There is not that big a disparity.

    Exploit Kansas City’s inferiority complex to STL. Get the fire started!

  20. FrankM says:

    Scott Simon, Not a hater. I read enough of Vahe’s product in the PD to dislike his writing style. A personal opinion is just that, douche.

    I do appreciate your wanting to defend a friend you know from StL, but as a PR guy, defending a friend means you are just as biased as we are as readers.

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