There is a great debate brewing amongst Royals fans about the Garth Brooks song “Friends in Low Places” that’s used in the sixth inning of home Royals games. There is a growing sentiment that the song should go away. The Royals, clearly, want the song to stay, saying it’s a tradition at Kauffman Stadium.
This tradition was brewed out of marketing efforts when the stadium was remodeled. Team officials were looking for a “song” to be like “Sweet Caroline” which is used at Boston’s Fenway Park. They settled on the Brooks diddy after Brooks visited Spring Training one year. He produced several videos in 2004 for the team and they began a partnership with his charity.
But traditions cannot be made in a conference room. And the fans never did seem to get why a family sport like baseball would make a tradition out of drinking whiskey and wine and commiserating your alcoholism with your other alcoholic friends.
Traditions in sports must be made organically. The slapping of the “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY” sign at Notre Dame. The Lambeau Leap in Green Bay. Even the student section at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. All examples of organically created traditions that are among the best in sports.
Formula One racing is steeped in tradition with the Brickyard in Indianapolis. But once you slap a “MILK” ad on the milk being drunk by the winner of the Indy 500, you lose that innocence and you lose the tradition.
And even when corporations make up traditions, like “buying” the “Discount Double-Check” from Aaron Rodgers, it still will never rise to the level of a true tradition. You have to let these things grow on their own.
Kauffman and Arrowhead have plenty of outstanding traditions without trying to grow them in a test tube. The smell and the smoke of BBQ rising in the sunrise on a fall afternoon in the Arrowhead parking lot is among the greatest sensations in the world. The “Let’s Go Royals” chant, while not terrible creative, is emotional when a game is on the line. Even the spirit of Sporting KC’s Cauldron is something that needs to be witnessed to be appreciated.
So, let’s get rid of Garth at The K. Let’s let the fans come up with something better. Our own tradition. Something more Kansas City.
Maybe what we come up with will be even better than where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases your blues away. You’ll be okay.