January 17, 2024
After all, they call it football everywhere else.
As the official healthcare provider of the Kansas City Chiefs, our medical team sees its fair share of football, the game that mostly involves the hands, throwing and running with the pigskin.
The world’s football game goes by a different name here, and we couldn’t be happier to work “soccer” into our partnership portfolio.
Late in 2023, the Kansas City Current women’s professional soccer team selected The University of Kansas Health System as its official healthcare provider beginning with the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season.
They will open the season at the new CPKC Stadium in the Berkley Riverfront area of downtown Kansas City, hailed as the “first women’s professional sports stadium in the world.”
“As one of the leaders nationally in working with elite athletes, the health system is a tremendous fit for the Kansas City Current as we continue our organization’s quest to build the best women’s soccer club in the world,” said co-owners Angie and Chris Long at the announcement.
The Current’s focus on women’s sports aligns with the health system’s priority of providing specialized care for female athletes." Tammy PetermanHealth system president, Kansas City region.
Embracing the care of Current players
The agreement, in and of itself, is a big deal. The health system will mirror its relationships with the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals and University of Kansas athletes. None of these arrangements is more or less important to us than the other. There’s just something about this that put an absolute charge in our people leading up to the public announcement.
At the heart of it, health system physicians and clinical staff will provide care for the team both on the field and off.
“The health system has demonstrated leadership in sports medicine as the official healthcare provider to athletic organizations at every level of play,” said Bob Page, health system president and CEO. “We also provide the same level of care for high school and middle school athletes at 38 schools across the metro area. As a national leader, we believe it is important to provide the same level of specialized care to female athletes at every level.”
Soccer takes hold in Kansas City
For many of us who admittedly didn’t follow soccer like we did football, baseball, basketball, golf and tennis, there’s a learning curve. Some of us of a certain age simply didn’t grow up with it. I applied for a PR job once at a pro soccer team and had to ask the question: “Do you have to know anything about soccer or have gone to a live match?” That makes me laugh now. The answer was yes on both accounts, and I didn’t get the job.
I know I’m not alone as a middle-aged Midwesterner. US teams playing the World Cup in just the past 2 decades were my first real experiences with the sport. I didn’t grow up with soccer.
I’ve arrived at the other end of the curve.
It’s now my pleasure working in communications at The University of Kansas Health System to brag about this new partnership and learn from others how exciting this sport is.
Fast forward to today, and the whole city is planning to host World Cup games in 2026. In a slew of big achievements for Kansas City (new airport, last year’s NFL Draft to name 2), hosting the World Cup is the crown jewel.
Committed to female athletes
“The Current’s focus on women’s sports aligns with the health system’s priority of providing specialized care for female athletes,” says Tammy Peterman, health system president, Kansas City region.
Bingo. Not only does this feel like the right thing at the right time for both organizations, but it also matches a commitment each has to women’s health, women’s sports medicine and the development of both to show young female athletes the way to greatness.
A year after the Current played its first season in Kansas City, the health system formally announced a Female Athlete Program. It combines the disciplines of the physical, nutritional, physiological and psychological needs of a female athlete into 1 cohesive approach. We should also note we’ve always had many physician subspecialists across our health system who are bona fide experts in their fields related to the impact of injury and illness to women.
We know the track records our teams have enjoyed with the Chiefs and Royals (all men) and the Jayhawks (women and men). In this exclusive arena, in this first-of-a-kind stadium, we get to see it all unfold for a new generation of athletes.