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How 'bout those Chiefs! The effect of sports on fans and fans on their teams

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Jeremy Bernfeld
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KCUR 89.3 file photo
Kansas City Chiefs fans set a 2014 Guinness world record with a 142.2 decibel roar from the crowd in a game against the New England Patriots.

A win can lift an entire city, a roar can lift an entire team — and making the playoffs is a big lift for bar owners.

Watching sports can be an escape from the everyday stressors of life, according to professor J.C. Abdallah.

Abdallah researches how fans interact and identify with sports. He explained how a game can affect the mood and health of a city, and why a win can lead to people being nice, and more patient and understanding of each other.

When fans are excited at Arrowhead, it's definitely known. The stadium broke the Guinness World Record for the loudest roar in 2014, when the Kansas City Chiefs stuffed a New England Patriots rush.

Chiefs linebacker Willie Lanier described how cheering fans impact the game. The loud noise could create "just a little bit of challenge," Lanier said.

At times, the linebacker recalled, being able to see the stress on the opposing team.

"It could be caused by just the tension of the game, or it could also be caused by just this constant roar that is not normal anywhere else except inside a stadium," Lanier said.

The Super Bowl champ analyzed where the Buffalo Bills went wrong, ultimately, handing the win to Kansas City during the Jan. 23 game.

At Johnny's Tavern in Kansas City's Power and Light District, the last 13 seconds of last Sunday's game, where Lanier says the Bills faltered, owner Kyle Witherspoon described the opposite of a roaring crowd.

"It was quiet for 13 seconds," Witherspoon said.

Once the tying field goal was kicked, "you couldn't hear yourself think," the bar owner said. "It went from zero to 60 in a hurry."

For bar owners like Witherspoon, another week of playoff football is a windfall. The tavern owner expects a few thousand people to converge in the Power and Light District for this weekend's contest against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cincinnati is also feeling the excitement as they prepare to take on the Chiefs in the AFC championship game. "The excitement level in the city is just tremendous," said Billy Watson, owner of Kitty's Sports Bar in Cincinnati.

Watson said some fans spent more than six hours in the bar during the team's last game pointing out, "This is all so new for us."

During the last matchup between the Chiefs and Bengals, Patrick Mahomes Sr. was among the crowd at Kitty's Sports Bar.

"I had a lot of fun with them," Watson said of the Mahomes group.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
As Up To Date’s associate producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz