Lamar Hunt Jr.

The Kansas City Star, NHL Hockey, and Lamar Hunt Jr.

The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Star, NHL Hockey, and Lamar Hunt Jr.NHL Hockey, and Lamar Hunt Jr.:  Sports columnist Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star published an insightful article over the weekend on the future of NHL hockey in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.

Sam analyzes the relatively strong and growing local interest and support in the Kansas City Mavericks of the East Coast Hockey League and how Lamar and the Mavericks organization is helping to build a support system for hockey that will increase the likelihood that an NHL team may eventually want to make Kansas City its home.  Here’s a quote from Lamar that’s cited in the article:

‘The NHL has vaguely mentioned Kansas City as a possible expansion market, and the Sprint Center’s lack of an anchor tenant makes this a natural question. But, as best I can tell, no one from or representing Kansas City will be among those submitting bids for a team to play here.  Lamar Hunt Jr., who owns the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks, a minor-league hockey team that plays in Independence, called the NHL’s $500 million price tag for an expansion franchise “a ridiculously big fee,” and said that he is not aware of anyone in Kansas City who will make a push for a team.  “No, it’s not on my radar,” he said. “It’s not on this team’s radar, and it’s not on my radar.”’

Here’s another snippet from the article:   “There are encouraging signs. Not just the attendance. During one game of the Stanley Cup Final, more people watched in Kansas City than St. Louis — which has an NHL team and much more of a hockey culture.

The Mavericks are making a particular push for millennials. In Hunt Jr.’s words, the goal is to “let them know this is a very cool thing to do, no pun intended.” The club is working on ways to do this, including with merchandise, a phone app, and perhaps something around the beards that hockey players have always fancied.”

Read more here:

Lamar Hunt Jr.’s Loretto Sports acquires Kansas City Mavericks

Lamar Hunt Jr. watches the Missouri MavericksLamar Hunt Jr.’s Loretto Sports acquires Missouri Mavericks:  Loretto Sports Ventures, LLC, a company owned by Lamar Hunt, Jr., has announced that it purchased the Kansas City Mavericks of the East Coast Hockey League and that Lamar Hunt, Jr. had been approved for ownership status by the ECHL Board Of Directors.  The ECHL is considered the premier AA professional hockey league, and the Mavs play their home games at the Independence Events Center in Independence, Missouri.

At the press conference, Lamar said that “today is an exciting day for the Kansas City Mavericks and our great fans.  Since 2009, the Mavericks have been an exemplary hockey franchise.  I have seen firsthand how the team and staff come together to create a competitive product on the ice, as well as an exhilarating game day experience at Independence Events Center. We are pleased to have the opportunity to build upon the foundation of success the team has established and can’t wait to get started.”

The Kansas City Mavericks entered a new era for the 2014-15 season after a historic move to the ECHL.  Last October, the Mavericks, along with six other teams of the former Central Hockey League (CHL), were formally accepted as expansion member teams into the ECHL.  The Mavs have made the playoffs in each of their first five seasons, including winning the 2014 Bud Poile Governor’s Cup, capping a season of franchise record regular-season wins (44).   The Mavs have been awarded numerous community and league awards over the years, including the Harry S. Truman Special Community Service Recognition Award by the City of Independence, and claiming Central Hockey League Franchise of the Year for the past four straight seasons.  The Kansas City Mavericks are proud to be Kansas City’s only professional hockey team and are dedicated to furthering the values and skill-level of hockey players and fans throughout the metro area.

“Lamar’s sports acumen and dedication to the community will immediately impact the success of our team,” said Mavericks General Manager, Brent Thiessen. “It ensures our long-term future in Kansas City and we are excited to help him take the franchise to the next level.”

“We proudly welcome Lamar Hunt, Jr. to the ECHL,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “The Kansas City Mavericks have been a welcome addition to our league and the new ownership group provides a strong local tie to what has been a great city for our sport.”  Under the new ownership, the Mavericks will seek to raise the profile of the team regionally, seek affiliation with an NHL franchise and expand existing youth hockey programs in the Kansas City area.

Shifting Momentum in the Battle Against Abortion

Anyone watching the Super Bowl in February of 2013 (not the most recent blow-out of the Broncos by the Seahawks) witnessed a critical change in momentum in the direction of the game when the lights went out. Until that point, the Baltimore Ravens had dominated the game but, shortly after halftime, when the lights went out, the 49ers regrouped and came storming back to almost win in the final seconds. In like manner, the momentum in our culture has shifted to life or pro-life. The abortion industry has relied heavily on countering a “pro-life” position with a “pro-choice” position. In the past pro-choice has rung true for many people because everyone likes to have choices. However, the term pro-choice objectively means that one supports the legalized killing of unborn babies. It's a harsh characterization, but it's true. It cannot be rationalized in any other way. Those who support abortion have now shifted to characterizing a pro-life position as one of waging a war on women. But the pro-life position is truly pro-woman – not anti-woman.  The pro-abortion movement is struggling to find a new marketing message but somehow they cannot get away from what they are actually advocating – which is to be able to legally kill unborn babies. An unborn baby is a human being with potential, not a potential human being.

So how do we know that the momentum has changed and that pro-lifers outnumber pro-choicers? As mentioned first, there is a struggle for the pro-choice position to find a meaningful and catchy message that rings true with what they advocate (the killing of babies). Second, the 2010 elections resulted in the passage of many new pro-life laws. Third, the murder trial for a known late-term abortion provider unveiled the horrors of the abortion business.  As a result, there are initiatives afoot at the state and federal levels to provide additional protection for unborn babies. And then there is Planned Parenthood, the behemoth that is the world’s largest abortion provider. Though Planned Parenthood is politically entrenched and financially strong, there are ongoing efforts to eliminate the taxpayer funding of abortion, they have locations that have closed so abortion services are no longer offered in certain areas, clinics are being exposed for poor conditions, women are speaking out about abortion complications (including mental health concerns) and being heard, and Planned Parenthood is experiencing challenges in states for Medicare fraud and improper billing. For more about Planned Parenthood read The Truth Behind Planned Parenthood published by the Human Life Alliance.

So in summary, here are ten discernable signs of cultural change regarding abortion.

*  Public opinion has shifted.

*  There is a very low number of abortion providers.

*  Most doctors refuse to perform abortions.

*  The number of abortions performed in 2012 was the lowest since 1976.

*  Komen Foundation has problems with affiliation and temporarily drops Planned Parenthood.

*  Planned Parenthood holds up the federal budget process.

*  NARAL President resigns noting that majority of youth are pro-life.

*  A record number of pro-life laws have been enacted.

*  Participation at pro-life events reaches an all-time high.

*  The media is beginning to report on these trends.

The momentum has shifted, women are speaking out, and 40 years of pro-lifers pushing against the culture of death is now starting to bear fruit. For those who have experienced an abortion, know that God’s mercy and forgiveness goes beyond anything another human being can offer. Now is the time to share your pain and heal. God, the Divine Physician, wants to heal you and give you a new life. Come to Him with trust and confidence that he will do what he says he can do.

The Wonderful Work of Operation Breakthrough

My wife Rita and I get many invitations to help with events in the greater Kansas City community and, of course, we can’t say “yes” to every request. When we do take on an obligation, we try to share the good news about that organization with the hope that others may want to get involved, even if only in a small way. One thing we’ve taken on this spring is to be the Honorary Chairs for Operation Breakthrough’s 16th Annual Fundraiser, “Recipe for Success”, on April 25th, 2014 from 5:30-10:00pm at the Downtown Marriott/Muelbach Tower.

For those of you that do not know about Operation Breakthrough and what they do, let me fill you in.  We’ve all heard the phrase “children-at-risk” and that is the population that Operation Breakthrough focuses on – children-at-risk and their parents. Located at 3039 Troost in Kansas City Missouri, lamarritapicOperation Breakthrough was founded in 1971 by Sister Corita Bussanmas and Sister Berta Sailer in response to requests from center-city residents for quality child care for children from working-poor families. It is the largest nationally-accredited, single-site childcare center in the state of Missouri.  They care for 450 children every day and 85% of enrolled children are from families living below the poverty level, often making less than $14,000 per year. Besides providing early-childhood education, Operation Breakthrough also provides before- and after-school services to another 125 children. The center provides emergency services, food, clothing, diapers, on-site medical and dental care, occupational, speech and play therapy. There are also programs for parents and caregivers, and some of the children are at times homeless or in foster care. Having toured the facility, I can tell you that Operation Breakthrough is a busy and vibrant place. There is plenty of activity!

Time is a limited commodity for everyone. Naturally, Operation Breakthrough needs donations of all kinds on a continuing basis.  This includes financial contributions and donations of goods such as food, clothing, and other basic necessities. The Christmas season also provides an opportunity to adopt a family. Many schools, including Rockhurst High School, have encouraged their students to give service hours to Operation Breakthrough. Volunteers can support a preschool teacher in a classroom, serve as a tutor or homework helper for school-age students, rock babies to sleep in the infant rooms, support the administrative team with office and administrative work, or help with special projects and events. One thing anyone can do is simply sponsor a child for the Summer Enrichment Program where they will spend their mornings reading and their afternoons exploring the community and discovering their talents.

Recently, after a visit to Operation Breakthrough to work on some details for the upcoming annual fundraiser, I saw a brochure made for the parents of the children at Operation Breakthrough.  The information in the brochure could benefit all of us. It highlighted three things parents should do with their young children on a regular – preferably daily – basis: talk to your child, read to your child, and play with your child. Just these basic things remind us of how distracted we can become with all of the activities we have in our overscheduled lives. The greatest gift we can give our own children, and the children at Operation Breakthrough, is an opportunity to know how family is supposed to work. A family is where everyone grows up, comes to understand how relationships and friendships, and how to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. All of our children deserve such an opportunity. Check out Operation Breakthrough and how you might become involved.  No one can go wrong when they make an effort to help a child or family.

Reflections on Personal Responsibility and Accountability

Recently author and actor (and maybe good old-fashioned philosopher) Ben Stein wrote an article about a very close friend taking his own life. He was a man that Mr. Stein had respected and been in his circle of close friends since early childhood. Apparently this gentleman was alone and dejected about his health and though once wealthy, he had found himself deeply in debt with no means of making a living. He saw his only options as poverty or death, or so he thought. Mr. Stein said, “The suicide of this man has burned through my brain like a brush fire that never goes out.”

Mr. Stein went on to reflect that he had given money to this man on various occasions before he died but regretted that he had not done more for him. Mr. Stein, with his usual disarming candor, admitted that because he had be burned (or taken) in the past for loaning money to relatives, he was leery about this man. However he reflects that “I should have been willing to take the gamble that I would get ripped off another time.”

The second thought that Mr. Stein revealed was that this man maybe could have made arrangements to live more modestly including looking into a small apartment or even Section 8 housing and spent more time in the public library among the other free activities he could have enjoyed. He could have asked for help in redefining his life. His conundrum was that, “he did not have enough money to be the man of means he wanted to be, and that made his life unbearable.” His life had become about envy and status and not gratitude. He saw life as only what he could have (or material possessions) and in no way about what he could give to others.

Mr. Stein's final reflection was that the man who shot himself did not believe in God but that God did indeed place him on this earth and “therefore he had a right to be here whether he was rich or poor.” Maybe this man just wanted to stop hurting so much and have some peace. “Maybe he wanted to go home.”

Once again it is the time of year where Christians are asked to deeply examine their lives and get rid of the excess that may have taken hold in some negative manner. Though some treat it as a fable, the story in Genesis about Adam, Eve, and the one tree that should not be touched rings true. God planted a beautiful garden and placed human beings there. God wanted life to be lived to the very fullest possible and he still desires that for us. The Garden was a place of delight, of color, of romance, where human energy and endeavor could interact with other created things. There was vast or immense freedom. Science, politics, culture, entertainment, conversation, friendship, and love were all available. Life was rich beyond anything we can imagine. 

But there was a prohibition surrounding one tree in the middle of the Garden which should not be touched. It was to be respected, reverenced, and honored. It represented the reality of God's prerogative to be God and to determine what is good and what is evil. That is indeed God's prerogative but it is not done to shame or punish us. It is done to foster our ultimate happiness and everlasting joy. When we take on being the arbiters of good and evil, to decide right from wrong, we, in essence, have attempted to make ourselves gods. This Original Sin haunts us to this day, and all of the agony and struggle flow from this fundamental error on our part. This is the human story and we all are a part of that story. We are the creature and He is the Creator. He is omnipotent and we are powerless. Infinite and finite, it seems so apparent. 

The Garden became desolate, and Adam and Eve had to take on life in very harsh terms – just as we do today. There are realities that we cannot transcend no matter how much we think we possess. Pleasure, honors, and power are the paths we take to circumvent God's grace acting in our lives. This is why Lent is a call or a return to not only common sense but to personal responsibility and accountability. An examination of our conscience is well overdue on how we might have offended God and our neighbor.

When Jesus is confronted by the Devil in the desert, he takes on evil. He confronts pleasure – and we are a pleasure-obsessed society. He humbles himself before offers of honor and is unconcerned about his reputation or being highly admired by others. And finally, when offered power, he resists for His Kingdom is not of this world. His power is found in humility, in being little and perhaps unnoticed.

This blog began with one man's reflection on the unfortunate passing of a dear friend. As we approach Spring, milder temperatures let us reflect on what we are seeking in life. Is there room for God in our busy lives? What is tempting you? Is it pleasure, honor, or power? Re-engage with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Trust in Christ. Avoid bitterness or divisiveness. Tell God and Jesus you want something different for yourself. This is a time of renewal, a time of rebirth. Jesus heals our wounds and frees us from anxiety. Let go and Let God.