Social Distancing Before Its Time: The Kansas City Chiefs In The '70s And '80s

Joshua Brisco

In this era of the Coronavirus pandemic, "social distancing" has become the phrase of the year. Plans for the return of sports largely include either the elimination — or at least a limitation — of fans in the stands. But there was a time when the Kansas City Chiefs were setting an excellent example for social distancing in a pro stadium.

Former Chiefs beat writer Rick Gosselin has taken a look back to a time when Arrowhead Stadium would have likely kept you at least six feet away from any strangers.

On SI.com's Talk Of Fame Network, Gosselin remembers the loss-filled years of the Chiefs' 1970s and 1980s, with little success and few fans.

In the 1982 season finale, the Chiefs were in the throes of a 2-6 strike season and freezing temperatures awaited them for the noon start against the New York Jets.
As the media huddled in the warmth of the press room before the game, I put together a pool guesstimating crowd size. We had about 30 entries and I remember the highest prediction came from a professional cheerleader named Crazy George, who would beat a tom-tom in the stands during the game to generate crowd noise and excitement. He predicted a turnout of 70,000 … to which I told him, “George, you aren’t that popular nor are you that good.”
There was a smattering of guesses in the 30,000s, a few more in the 40,000s but most of us were in the 20,000s. Nobody won the money – we were all too high. Only 11,902 showed up for the game. That’s one fan every 6.6 seats at Arrowhead – social distancing at its finest.

Click here to read Gosselin's full story. For some, it will be a perhaps-unpleasant jogging of the memory. For others, a story of an era you never knew. Either way, it should help you appreciate the era of Chiefs football we have now.

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