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Kansas City's Tico Sports brings Chiefs' Super Bowl excitement to Spanish-language audiences

Tico Sports announcers Oscar Monterroso, left, and Kike Morales will call their second Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl game this weekend in Tampa, Florida.
Tico Productions
Tico Sports announcers Oscar Monterroso, left, and Kike Morales, shown here during the 2019 season, called their second Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl game this weekend in Tampa, Florida.

As Latino communities across the country continue to grow, more football fans are tuning in to Spanish-language broadcasts of the Chiefs and other NFL franchises.

Spanish-speaking communities across the continent got a front-row seat to the Kansas City Chiefs’ second Super Bowl in their own language, thanks to the effort and excitement of Tico Sports, a Latino-owned broadcast company in Kansas City.

“We’re really excited,” said Cici Rojas, cofounder and president of Tico Productions. “It has really been a lot of fun.”

It was the company's second year in a row broadcasting the Super Bowl.

Rojas’ husband and Tico cofounder, Oscar Monterroso, announces the Chiefs games with Kike Morales, whose touchdown celebration — a top-of-the-lungs “ANOTACIÓN!” — simultaneously brings to mind that of legendary Chiefs’ announcer Mitch Holthus, and the elongated cries of Andrés Cantor.

Cantor, an Argentinian-American sportscaster, gained fame among English- and Spanish-speaking soccer fans for shouting out an extended “Gol!” whenever a team scored.

“We have a full broadcast,” said Rojas, “a spotter on game day with stats, and someone running social, a producer and a sideline reporter.”

While the on-air product is similar to what you might hear in English, she said, “I think what you find in the Spanish-language is there's a little bit more of an education component because, for many folks, they're just (now) really getting into football.”

Rojas and Monterroso founded the business in 2012 and have had a deal to announce the Chiefs in Spanish for almost five years. The company has also inked deals with the NFL teams in Las Vegas, Baltimore, Jacksonville and Philadelphia, and they have taken on announcing duties for some University of Kansas and University of Nebraska sports.

On any given game day, Rojas estimates 20,000-30,0000 people are actively tuned in, with pockets of viewers as far away as Garden City, Kansas, Mexico and London.

The Spanish-language broadcasts are available on the Tico Sports and Kansas City Chiefs websites, KCWJ 1030 AM Real Country, the Kansas City Chiefs app and NFL Game Day Pass.

“We’ve seen a big uptick,” said Rojas, who said the company has a couple more deals in the works, but declined to share specifics.

“We think we'll have another couple of announcements in the spring,” she said, “with at least one new team we'll be working with.”

Chiefs fans show support from Mexico during the NFL divisional round football game against the Cleveland Browns on Jan. 17 in Kansas City.
Reed Hoffman
Chiefs fans show support from Mexico during the NFL divisional round football game against the Cleveland Browns on Jan. 17 in Kansas City.

An estimated 59.8 million Hispanic people live in the United States — just less than 20% of the country’s population, according to the Census Bureau. An estimated 41 million U.S. residents speak Spanish at home.

Rojas says many Tico Sports viewers live in bilingual homes.

An average of 757,000 people watched the Super Bowl LIV in Spanish on FOX Deportes, setting the record for the most-watched Super Bowl game in Spanish-language television history.

Connecting through sports

Claudia Rios has rooted for Kansas City since she married a Chiefs fanatic 15 years ago and has watched the Chiefs games with her family in Spanish in the past.

Under normal circumstances they would have hosted a big Super Bowl gathering at their home in Grain Valley, Missouri. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, and her recovery from surgery, this year’s affair was much smaller.

Rios came to the United States when she was 15. She said hearing Spanish commentary helps her feel connected to her Mexican culture.

“How can I explain it?” asked Rios, who works at a manufacturing plant. “I guess the feeling you feel when you’re listening in Spanish is more exciting.”

The broadcasts also provide Spanish-speaking immigrants in Kansas City with a way to connect to their new hometown, said Ana Nubia Hernandez, who co-owns the radio station La Mega KC, which used to carry the Tico Sports broadcasts.

“Even if you're not from Kansas City you become a Chiefs fan just because you'll see the excitement that it brings to other people,” Hernandez said. “So just caring for their local team — that means a lot. It's like they belong here.”

The Chiefs success over the last two seasons has even drummed up support as far away as Mexico City.

Members of the fan club Kansas City Chiefs Mexico gather in Mexico City.
Alejandro Ibarra
Members of the fan club Kansas City Chiefs Mexico gather in Mexico City.

Fans in Mexico City

Alejandro Ibarra runs a Kansas City Chiefs Facebook fan club there, and has been a Chiefs fans since the 1980s.

He said, in those days, quality NFL broadcasts were hard to find, and Chiefs games were even more rare.

"But the internet, for us as Chiefs fans, gives us way more satisfaction," and more options, Ibarra said.

While watching the Super Bowl tonight with a small gathering of friends instead of at the club's usual restaurant pick, Ibarra said his dream of traveling to Kansas City for a home game is only more intense — whatever tonight's outcome. They were not dissuaded by the halftime score with the Buccaneers leading the Chiefs, 21-6.

"The COVID-19 has had us dancing around, and it's not easy," Ibarra said, "but definitely it’s one of those, you know, on your bucket list. I have to go to the Arrowhead and experience everything — tailgating, the game, even go to Joe's to get barbecue."

As culture editor, I oversee KCUR’s coverage of race, culture, the arts, food and sports. I work with reporters to make sure our stories reflect the fullest view of the place we call home, so listeners and readers feel primed to explore the places, projects and people who make up a vibrant Kansas City. Email me at luke@kcur.org.
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