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Image by Annie Spratt
  • Writer's pictureEthan Voss

Finding Comfort In Fall, Football And Family Traditions

Each year as the leaves begin to brown, with a scent of pumpkin spice in the air, I reach in my cupboard for my Chiefs cup, go to my closet for my Mahomes shirt and to my drawer for my red socks emblazoned with the KC arrowhead. 

There is consistency, a feeling of comfort and a nostalgic longing for home every time I turn on the TV to watch my Kansas City Chiefs take on an NFL enemy in primetime from the luxury of my dorm room couch. 

For Scott Yeaglin, a Union University father, this feeling hits home every time the Star Spangled Banner ends with a triumphant “Home of the CHIEEEEFS” moments before kickoff. 

Yeaglin was raised in Indianapolis before moving to Kansas City in 1988, where he was first introduced to the traditions and insanity of the passionate fan base that makes up Chiefs Kingdom. 

As I walked into his house, I was greeted by the Yeaglin family dogs, Chief and Arrow, welcoming me into the red and yellow man-cave adorned with championship banners, Super Bowl flags and autographed photos of Kansas City legends. 

“My first experience at Arrowhead is what did it,” Yeaglin said. “My first game was against the Miami Dolphins. It was so loud and I was immediately hooked.”

Over the years, the memorabilia collection has grown into a welcoming nest for football fans to cheer on the Chiefs alongside a cardboard cutout of Patrick Mahomes, with the television set perfectly beneath well-mounted jerseys of franchise heroes Derrick Thomas and Eric Berry. 

“I am around this all year long leading up to the fall,” Yeaglin said. “When the season starts it’s ramped up on steroids, there is pure adrenaline and then you crash and there is a depression as you count the days till the season starts again.”

This cycle begins each fall as traditions return, bringing families together under the united umbrella of watching men with biceps twice the size of my neck run, dive and tackle all for the goal of hoisting a trophy smaller than my backpack in mid-February as they plant their flag on football’s highest summit. 

For many fans, the traditions and rituals set by prior generations provide a reminder of home as the game transports you to a place of sentimentality through family memories and traditions.

I sat down with Tristan Kluck, a junior business administration major, who shared with me the personal value of football and its deep roots in his childhood. 

“I’m just happier during football season,” Kluck said. “I believe viewing games together is truly a timeless activity. It is the same experience of watching games now with my dad as it was when I was eight and it is the same experience my dad had with his father when he was eight.”

For Kluck, football has been a staple of his growth into adulthood, from watching games after school on Thursday nights in middle school to playing alongside his father, Professor Ted Kluck, in the annual Buster Bowl game hosted by Union University.

Sometimes it is not the game itself that brings the true satisfaction, but rather the community around the sport that continues to bring fans back each week, even through some of the most miserable moments.

As Yeaglin raised two daughters through struggling Chiefs seasons, he trained them to be ‘Raider Haters’ and to support Kansas City despite devastating years of playoff defeats. 

When asked about his favorite item in his impressive floor to ceiling man-cave collection, Yeaglin did not hesitate in making his two selections. 

The first was an autographed Lamar Hunt ball that he received as a gift from his father, the man who taught him to love the Chiefs. The second was a framed photo that appeared to be the crayon scribbles of a young child on a piece of white office paper.

“My daughter Lydia drew this photo when she was five,” Yeaglin said. “The man on the right was her favorite player, Jamaal Charles, and the man on the left is a Denver Broncos player he had just tackled to the ground. My favorite part is that you can see the Broncos player saying ‘woah’ as he lays there.” 

It was evident that, more than the Super Bowl rings, the autographed photos and the championship flags surrounding every square inch of the room, it was the family stories that stood out to Yeaglin. 

I will never forget the first time I was introduced to “Mr. Scott.” I walked through the door of his house holding a box of Mahomes Crunch cereal as a freshman from Kansas City on the day of the Super Bowl. He immediately gave me a hug in the doorway and welcomed me into his home as a member of Chiefs Kingdom. 

As the fall rolls around, when fantasy leagues schedule drafts and jerseys get dusted off for a long season of ups and downs, I am reminded that football is more than just a game. It is an opportunity for community through long standing traditions in the celebrations and even in the toughest of seasons. 

“This room is a fun comfort and if all of it goes away this is not my identity,” said Yeaglin. “There are plenty of games that I miss because this is not my everything. There are more important things, like our small group on Sunday nights, but as soon it’s over, you know we are going to get that TV turned on.” 

This piece was originally published in the Cardinal & Cream

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