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“In the Box”: An anthem for Sporting Kansas City?

Unifying the fans, the team, the city has no limits.

SOCCER: NOV 22 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Round One - San Jose at Sporting KC Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the cusp of the 26th home opener in Sporting Kansas City’s history – especially after the year that was 2020 – excitement is running high. Friday night at 6:30pm versus Orlando City will be a return to a home.

The reasons are many. It’s the excitement of high-level competition. The thrill of a tight match, the frustrations and the joys. It’s an excuse to drink for some, scream therapy for others.

But mostly, for the involuntary emotional people we are, it is about being a part of something bigger than yourself. Of being pulled and pushed along, now voluntarily, by the unifying feelings of the moments. It is why you have likely hugged or high-fived with near strangers at sporting events or concerts and partly why you have sung along with the crowd at a concert. It is the shared experience.

Chants and traditions play on all this at Children’s Mercy Park before, during, and after a Sporting match. A child battling cancer is honored (and the crowd chants his or her name in a now-tradition began by those in The Cauldron). Veterans are honored, and all stand. The “I believe that we will win” chant starts and spreads to the whole stadium just before and during kickoff. At some point, The Cauldron spiritedly yells “Sporting” and the South Stand replies “Kansas City” and many join in.

And, no matter the result, after, the team, arms across each other’s shoulders, stands in front of The Cauldron while they stand the same and serenade their heroes with “When the Wiz go marching in.” The swaying and the beat grow only more intense until the end as the team bounces along.

But nothing there compares to this:

Or to many of the other anthems adopted by soccer clubs throughout the globe. The anthem is a football tradition like no other in sports.

But none of that means Sporting Kansas City needs an anthem or that it is time for one.

Yet, there is no denying one could make the Sporting Kansas City experience even better and, and this is the critical point, the materialization of an anthem could would unify the fans, the team, and the city even more. Nothing is more important than that.

Does Sporting Kansas City need an anthem? Is it time for one after 25 years?

Let’s go to the fans… and commit a journalistic faux pas… (I must reveal the quotes that follow are from interviews I conducted in 2018 at two different Sporting Kansas City matches, as this is a topic I’ve long wanted to bring to light.)

A chorus of Fan Voices

“It’s hard to kick it off with a comparison to what is probably the single best tradition in professional sports around the globe [Liverpool’s “You’ll never walk alone.”). I don’t know if that is something we need or is something that has to be forced… I hear the words ‘club anthem’ and I think of whatever it is that RSL song is: And all I know is I don’t want that. If it’s something that happens, great. But it – and it’s something we’ve thought about before – but it always felt forced. If it happens, it happens. But I think we are doing okay without it.” Sam Pierron, Cauldron president from 1996-99

“The ‘I believe’ chant is overdone. It would be nice to get something new. And that was not something that was unique to us – a lot of places do that – so it would be nice to have something that is specific to us as opposed to something we borrowed from other clubs in Europe or anywhere else.

That’s what makes us unique: doing our own thing. I would be all for something like that to get the whole stadium singing together, like you hear some of the European clubs doing. Everyone always talks about, ‘Oh, we don’t want to emulate Europe; we’re America, we need to do things the way we do things.’ But you watch some of those EPL games, and you hear 50,000 people singing the same song together, and it’s just so cool. It reminds me very much of going to KU games, basketball games, and hearing the entire Allen Fieldhouse doing the Rock Chalk chant. It just gives you goosebumps listening to it.” Robert Houghton, former Cauldron president

“We need something our own. What that could be, I couldn’t give you a good answer. because It needs to be something that is organic, just happens.” Bobby Poole, longtime supporter

“There are only so many songs that will work in a crowd environment…. it has to be something that is broad [in appeal], encompasses everyone. I’d love to have one… It’s not something that happens overnight.” Kevin Shook, longtime supporter

“We can’t have the team saying, ‘Here’s your new song; here’s our new anthem. You guys adopt this.’ Then we are just going through the motions and nobody really cares. It has to be organic. It has to come from the fans, from the support for it to really catch hold and really mean something to the fans.” Robert Houghton

“Even when we come up with perfect song, we will do it for three years and then everyone will get sick of it. Before it becomes a club anthem, you have to go through that cycle of we did it, we like it, we’re tired of it, we’re still doing it, okay now it’s tradition.” Kevin Shook

Anthem Reflections (Thank you, gentlemen.)

What can be gleaned from their thoughts?

  • Any anthem should come about organically, be a grass roots effort. Because it has to mean something. (Ironically, the story of Liverpool’s anthem is not wholly organic.)
  • The song must be one that is known to all and easily sung.
  • It would be amazing. Like nothing before. Unifying.

Personally, I have many impassioned reasons why I truly believe “Somewhere over the rainbow” would be the perfect anthem for Sporting Kansas City. (Very little to do with The Wizard of OZ btw…). But I will keep those to myself, unless asked. I am not for forcing anything, not that I could anyway.

Of course, Kansas City has a strong jazz, a strong music, tradition. There could be something found there.

However, maybe an anthem is not necessary. Things like these never are, until they become necessary for whatever reasons.

Maybe there is no time for an anthem. It just happens.

Let us hear more from you, the fans, below: