I grew up around Chicago and consider myself a Chicago Bears Fan. After watching the Green Bay Packers annihilate the Bears yesterday I found myself wondering if life really was too short to be a Chicago Bears fan, especially with Jay Cutler at the helm. Now I can't blame the loss completely on Jay, our defense didn't show up either and Aaron Rodgers was his usual spectacular self. I know, blasphemy from a Bears fan. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's quarterback.
Anyway, I got to thinking about what makes a professional sports team fan a fan. There are so many parallels to religion that if there is a Hell, there'll be special seat in the eternal nosebleed section just for me. But this is about sports. The majority of the herd picks their favorite team based on where they live or who their friends and family like. Its not like high school where its your kid, the neighbor's, or you are alumni. Its the team someone has spent a lot of money putting together and placing a local label on and then marketing the hell out of them. Most aren't even local guys before getting drafted. We had Virgil Livers, a Chicago Bears CB living across the street from us when I was in high school (Go Bisons!) and I was fortunate enough to meet Alan Page, Noah Jackson, and Sweetness himself, Walter Payton. A few years later I met Mike Singletary. Those meetings, their kindnesses, and my proximity made me a Bears fan.
These many years later I look at these guys on television and they aren't my Bears. Not a one of them. Sure I like Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffries, Robbie Gould, and the good Mr. Bennett, but I like a lot of players on a lot of teams. These Bears uniforms are similar, but so what? One personnel change and its a different team. I haven't lived in Chicagoland for over twenty years. What is my loyalty to? A memory? The best marketing team? I am a tool. Just like all of these independent badass outlaw bikers who have to wear their genuine Harley-Davidson underwear. We Bears Fans get taught to be loyal to a team that's tickets sold yesterday for an average of over six hundred effing dollars each! It was $237 each for the cheapests seats at Soldier Field and fifty bucks for parking! What blue collar worker can take his family of four to ever see a game with those prices? The owners aren't doing us any favors. Neither are the players whose salaries are so high that paying them makes getting into a game prohibitive for a majority of their fans.
We love our so called sports heroes with their great displays of athleticism, but what do they give back? Where is their loyalty to us? People like Aaron Rodgers and Charles Tillman give back to the community and it is highlighted for all to see, but they are the exception, not the rule. Why do they get paid millions of dollars to play a game they love, while our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines often barely get by with great sacrifices and too frequently loss of life or limb?
I think it comes down to this. I like some athletes more than others. Having a favorite team invests me and keeps me interested. My team doesn't have to be the best or have the best QB, RB, WR, defensive line, etc. It just has to be mine. I will say this though, I believe in progress and I don't believe in getting bit by the same dog twice. If the owners don't love the game, the teams will suck.
I'm a 1985 Chicago Bears Fan. The Monsters of the Midway will live on forever in my heart and mind, but these Bears, I don't know. Show me something.
P.S. Aaron Rodgers is the shit.
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