Like many of my hometown friends, I am a Kansas City Chiefs fan by default.
Since the Rams departed the Edward Jones Dome for the sunny skies of Los Angeles, led by local Voldemort Stan Kroenke, the Chiefs have been the only game in town. The bandwagon only became more enticing as the Chiefs propelled themselves toward Sunday’s historic Super Bowl victory.
As fans reveled in victory and congratulatory sentiments rolled in from across the nation, even our commander in chief wanted to get in on the action, writing on his favorite medium of communication, “Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on a great game, and a fantastic comeback, under immense pressure. You represented the Great State of Kansas and, in fact, the entire USA, very well. Our country is PROUD OF YOU!”
Can you spot what is amiss in that message?
The Chiefs play in Missouri, not Kansas. Kansas shouldn’t be proud! Kansas didn’t build that. What a gift for Trump-skeptical pundits from coast to coast. Former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill responded to the president, calling him a “stone cold idiot.” The pearl clutching is so extreme as to suggest self-parody.
But I mean, come on guys. That’s a super common mistake. A good portion of Kansas City is indeed in the state of Kansas. While all the good parts may be in Missouri, that doesn’t negate the existence of Kansas City, Kansas, or as cool kids call it “KCK.” But the president was wrong, the Chiefs play in Missouri and not Kansas, an honest but somewhat embarrassing mistake.
The lesson of this experience is not the ignorance of the president or which side of the state line Arrowhead Stadium is on. Instead, it’s a deeper commentary on the ever-restless question of which Missouri metropolis is preeminent. Spoiler: It’s not the one that the president of the United States didn’t know was in Missouri.
St. Louis is Missouri’s flagship city. When outsiders from across the country hear Missouri, they think of a Gateway Arch, blue Bud Light, and two red birds on a bat. While Kansas City has its virtues, Jack Stack Barbecue first among them, it is still firmly in the No. 2 spot compared to its more mature sister to the east. On every front, St. Louis continues to reign supreme as the leading city in our great state.
St. Louis has a larger economy and is the home of more large and important corporations. The Cardinals and Blues have more championships between them than all of the professional sports teams in Kansas City combined. The fine arts scene in St. Louis is out of this world, with the symphony and the Muny setting national standards. Highly ranked universities. Killer beer scene.
You get the picture. St. Louis rules.
All of this is really not meant to demean Kansas City. Kansas City has a lot going for it, and the city is a shining jewel in Missouri’s crown, just not the crown jewel right in the middle. Kansas City is firmly in second place (maybe third if you count the glorious Broadway in the Ozarks utopia that is Branson). But seriously, the friendly rivalry between St. Louis and Kansas City benefits everyone and encourages both sides to strive to do better. Iron sharpens iron.
So the preoccupied president of the United States didn’t know what state Kansas City is in. Is that a valuable metric? Maybe not. But just knowing of something, and where that something is, means something. It’s important. When a St. Louis team wins a title, folks from Anaheim to Annapolis have no hesitation in crediting Missouri for that accomplishment. That is a credit to St. Louis, and a reminder that at least for now, St. Louis is still on top.
Noah Brandt, a public relations professional living in Washington, D.C., is obviously proudly from south St. Louis County.