John Grindrod: Team parades, a problematic future

With each viewing of the national evening news, we’re all constantly confronted with the fact that the world in which we live is so very dangerous. Sadly, it seems only days between stories are reported involving gun violence. Even areas where there is great jubilation are not immune, as was demonstrated in mid-February at the culmination of the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade and player speeches on a stage outside Union Station.

Now, to be honest, with the plethora of topics out there, I thought the column I wrote last year after being pretty much disgusted by the video clips of drunken players that I saw at the parades in Las Vegas and Denver after those cities’ teams won championships in hockey and pro basketball respectively would be the last column I’d ever write about team championship parades.

Of course, this year’s Kansas City parade and speeches sadly showed some of the same behaviors that fell far below the frat-party line, with the worst offender being a certain tight end and current boyfriend of the most widely recognized singer of her time. Yep, he’s the guy who decided that an event attended by families and scores of idolizing kids wearing his Number 87 Chiefs replica jersey was indeed a good time to stumble around and almost fall off the stage while slurring his lyrical proclamations of team dominance.

The parade also had an event at the end of the speeches for which it will be always remembered, especially by all who knew and loved Lisa Lopez-Galvan, the 43-year-old radio personality and disc jockey who brightened many wedding receptions and other feel-good celebrations throughout the KC area. She was struck by a bullet and killed during the gunfire that erupted between juveniles as Chief players were leaving the stage. Over 20 other attendees were also wounded in the hail of bullets.

As far as the frequency of such events that meet the definition of mass shooting, which is, according to the FBI, an event where one or more individuals are “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area,” what occurred on that combo Ash Wednesday-Valentine’s Day wasn’t even that day’s only mass shooting. Pushed to the back of that day’s national news was a drive-by shooting outside Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta that injured four students. Those two events brought the total of mass shootings to almost 50 in just a little over the first six weeks of 2024.

While I know there have been mass shootings for years, it seems to me that the frequency in which they occur now, sadly, unless they rise to the level of horrific due to the number of fatalities and/or the young ages of those slain, are often largely forgotten by most people within days.

Now, with this occurrence during a team’s championship event, I have to wonder whether this may very well signal the end of such pastimes, pastimes which really are tightly woven into the fabric of American history, especially in New York City. The section of Broadway where tickertape parades have been held since the 1880s has been accorded a familiar moniker, the Canyon of Heroes, and it has been the route travelled for the city’s championship teams many times.

Despite the fact that Kansas City surely wasn’t derelict in its duty in having a strong law-enforcement presence there with over 800 uniformed officers in attendance that day, without any scanners through which attendees had to pass, there could have been 8,000 officers, and they wouldn’t have been able to stanch the blood that was shed.

I’m wondering in a world with a seemingly endless supply of guns and enough people with mental imbalances or an absence of conscience where shooting another human being is of little or no concern whether future team championship celebrations will have an entirely different look to them.

We’ll see where this goes from here, but what happened on the last day of Lisa Lopez-Galvan’s life may have changed an age-old custom of hundreds of thousands of people lining streets while floats with players aboard pass by to events that are held in controlled environments like stadiums or arenas. There, those wishing to share the celebratory moments must pass through scanners, pick up their personal belongs on the other side and find their seats to hear the next group of athletes express their joy and, as many do, tell their adoring fans that they aren’t done winning championships.

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected].