Basketball in the Midwest: An Education

Well… I’ve been home almost two days now and I figured it was time to recap my experience in Kansas/Missouri.

As I’ve already mentioned, I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a professional football game while staying in Kansas City. This was a completely foreign event to me. As a proud Canadian, my passion has always been hockey, and the football craze just never really made sense to me. But, being the good student that I am, I learned the basics and was keen to understand what makes millions of people so fanatical.

However, what took me completely by surprise had nothing to do with the NFL… it was something I am very well acquainted with… university. You see, college sports, specifically basketball, are a religion in Kansas. The University of Kansas Jayhawks are the defending National Champions in college basketball and are so incredibly popular that they have huge stores devoted to selling memorabilia and clothing. Rivalries are fierce and family ties are often stretched to the limits. College basketball is actually more popular than the NBA. Needless to say, this is something that very few Canadians can relate to. I know that I would never pay $75 plus to watch a UFV hockey game… sorry team :(

Allen Fieldhouse (KU Basketball stadium)

In addition to my introduction to college sports… I also saw a few other glaring differences between my home in Beautiful British Columbia and life in the Airplane Manufacturing Capital of the World. The first being the number of restaurants and stores. There really isn’t a lot to do in Wichita during the colder months unless you want to eat out a lot… and trust me we did. Seriously America, this is why you are the most obese country in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat out, but I would weigh 900 lbs if I had the selection of restaurants that they have. But, with this immense selection also comes way more alternatives for people with allergies, such as dairy and gluten, and also stores devoted to organic produce. There are definitely some perks associated with the American lifestyle. Oh and did I forget to mention the sunshine… 8 days of sunshine was a welcome reprieve from the constant precipitation in dreary old Abbotsford.

To be fair… I did choose the worst month of the year to make by inaugural visit to Kansas. I have been assured that Wichita is actually quite beautiful in the spring/summer months when it isn’t so dry, and brown, and windy.

Wichita, Kansas

And I am certainly one to give credit where credit is due… and Kansas City (which is technically in Missouri) has a beautiful downtown. I fell in love with the Country Club Plaza district and would love to spend more time wandering around and visiting the beautiful museums.

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City

So in closing… I have extremely fond memories of my time in Kansas, which is thanks to all the wonderful people whom I stayed with. My friends and family made my stay so comfortable and filled with love and laughter… if home is where the heart is than I guess I left a big chunk of my heart in Kansas. There’s just no place like home :)

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Yesterday was a day of firsts for me: First time in Kansas/Missouri. First tailgating experience. First time gambling in a Casino. It was a real taste of the culture here in the Mid-West.

The day started bright and early with me trying to squeeze into as many layers as possible. We then drove to Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, where tailgaters had been setting up since 8am. We set up our portable barbecue, lawn-chairs, and blankets to enjoy the pre-game fan fair. There’s nothing like beer and chicken wings for breakfast.

Chillin in the Parking Lot!

I had a great time at the game with Jennie, her boyfriend Austin, and a few of their friends. Strangely enough, the main event of the game, occurred off the field and way up in the nose bleed seats. At about 1:00pm, a drunk man in the stands wet himself and had to be escorted down the steep stairs by a couple of security guards. It was the ultimate walk of shame. I really enjoyed my first real football game, but in the end the Chiefs lost to the Oakland Raiders 31-10.

Chief’s Game!

After the game we headed to Harrah’s North Kansas City Casino for a free night in a suite. We had a very healthy dinner, which included an appetizer of fried pickles (aka heart attack on a plate). After our energizing dinner we decided to gamble our lives away… obviously a good decision. Jennie and I tried a few slots which quickly sucked up our money… so we tried to take a stab at Blackjack. It’s a bigger risk but also has much bigger rewards. All day long we had been mocking Jennie about her unluckiness and she didn’t disappoint. She lost her first $20 bucks on the table in record time. So I pushed her aside and proceeded to win and win and win again until I had turned my $20 into $95. I just love winning. Winning is my favourite. I even shouted “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!” when I got a blackjack. I now understand how people get addicted to gambling. It was loads of fun and with Jennie as my personal cheerleader, I was on my way to fame and fortune. Although, I can’t take all the credit, the man beside me coached me the whole way… I must be lucky because I was having trouble even counting to 21… yep, my education is hard at work. In the end, Jennie joined the table, and I took a turn for the worse. I decided to quit while I was still ahead and ended up with $40… still not too bad for my first time.

Today we are taking it easy and spending time at the Country Club Plaza entertainment district, which is actually really beautiful. According to Jennie, Kansas City has over 200 fountains, which is the second most in the world after Rome. Pretty impressive stuff right? Not too shabby Missouri.