On snowy, sun-lit field, Sporting Kansas City forward Kei Kamara stood with all eyes on him. Nothing really different than any given Saturday during the summer. Well, except for the snow which he was covered in, some of which clung to his chin making it look as if he stole part of Santa Claus' beard. And that he was about to attack a group of fans (in a good way).
Kamara, who convinced teammates Jon Kempin, Matt Besler and Michael Harrington to join him in the spontaneous snowball fight/soccer game/sledding adventure, packed a snowball in his hand and before yelling "THIS IS SPARTA!"
He then charged across the open expanse between the two sides -- and was thoroughly pelted with snowballs.
The beauty? You mean, besides a scene of grown adults kicking a soccer ball in the snow and exchanging snow grenades with players they pay to see play during the summer and cavorting like children on a school yard during the middle of a work day not 24 hours removed from a rather intense snowstorm?
None of this was manufactured.
Sure, Sporting Kansas City latched onto the idea and gave out some Sporting merchandise. But this was a genuine moment from a truly genuine guy who genuinely wanted to have a good time with a few dozen people. He even gave it a genuinely cool name: #specialKCsnowmageddon. (If you don't understand the hashtag, ask your 14-year-old neice to explain Twitter to you.)
Kamara gave about 30 fans a memory that they'll probably never soon forget.And he did with no motive more ulterior than just wanting to get hit by a snowball.
He sealed the deal by taking everyone to Chipotle and paying for it. That's special. That's access that you just don't get to athletes.
Those few dozen people will root for Kei from this point forward till, well, probably forever.
Is that sort of sappy? Yeah, it is. Am I making too much out of it? Yeah, that's possible. After all, it was just a snowball fight attended by a couple of dozen people in a park on Thursday afternoon. Also, athletes meet their fans on a personal level all the time. (In fact, The Star's Terez Paylor wrote about the Royals doing a variation on this same thing today.)
Well, this was different. This was a guy going outside of the machinery of his team's public relations department to reach out -- literally! -- to the people who pay to watch him play a game to connect for nothing more than a chance to play in the snow.
Could you picture Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel jumping on Twitter to round up to people to go make snow angels in Loose Park? Or Billy Butler setting up a fan-page on Facebook just to go out sledding down Suicide Hill with dozens of fans?
No. You couldn't. It isn't because Cassel or Butler are terrible humans who don't love their fans. It's because the sports they play (football/baseball) and the leagues they play in (NFL/MLB) and the nature of their teams (both much more visible in the community) don't afford them this opportunity.
If either of them tried this, they'd be mobbed with 40,000 fans. Or more. And there would likely be a lot more marketing muscle behind it.
No, only an athlete who plays in a league like MLS could pull this off. Major League Soccer stars are just anonymous enough, just popular enough and just relatable enough to pull this off. (And they make enough money to pay for 30 or more burritos afterwards.)
And only an athlete like Kamara -- an affable, fun-loving guy who is as relatable and approachable as they come and who appreciates life and everything that he's been afforded -- can pull it off without making it all seem manufactured.
I hope more Kansas City sports fans get to appreciate moments like this.