As of this past Sunday, Sept. 12, football season has officially begun. Can I explain every offensive and defensive play that exists in the game? Not exactly. Can I recite the team history of the major (or not-so-major) players? Definitely not. However, I do know the rules of the game. The offense needs to advance 10 yards to earn a first down. If this goal is not met or exceeded after four downs, there is a turnover. Touchdowns are worth six points, field goals are worth three and the extra kick after a touchdown is worth one. But understanding the game does not make watching it half as fun as simply rooting for my team.
As a born-and-bred Chicagoan, I have been cursed with the misfortune of having some less-than-spectacular teams to cheer for. The Bears have not won the Super Bowl since Super Bowl XX in 1985. But you can bet that I was proud of them for making it to Super Bowl XLI in 2006, even though they lost. The Bears have not performed as well since then, which is why I suppose many have argued over these past few years that there needed to be coaching changes, but I cannot say that I am knowledgeable enough to partake in those debates myself.
To me, belonging to the community of Bears fans ranks far above knowing what decision is right for the team. I am not specifically a Lovie Smith enthusiast, nor am I against him, and I could not tell you who would coach better anyway. I am just a Bears fan. Whether or not their win this past Sunday was lucky or not, they did win, and I am thrilled.
The same holds true for the other Chicago teams. I won’t hate on the White Sox fans when it comes to baseball, but my heart lies with the Cubs. Just like the Bears, the Cubs are not what many would call a winning team. They have gone longer than any other team without winning a World Series. It has been 102 years since their last championship in 1908.
Does this lack of a win make me love the Cubbies any less? Not at all. They will always be my team. Sporting the players’ names on clothing and singing “Go Cubs Go” are some of the many Cubs rituals that I have carried with me all the way to Rochester. While I cannot always catch the games live on television, mainly because Chicago games are rarely broadcast here, I do my best to keep up online.
UR is somewhat like Chicago when it comes to sports, because it certainly has its share of teams that lose a lot. I often wonder what it would have been like to be amongst a sea of blue and orange at the University of Illinois, like hundreds from my area, tailgating before every football game, instead of watching my peers on television. I know I would have had the time of my life, but I would not trade my college experience at UR for anything. Instead, if school sports come up on the home front, I brag about the squash team.
If people try to deny that Chicago has winning teams, let them be reminded of the 2010 Stanley Cup. I just wish our fan base here at this school was as dedicated as that of the Bears and the Cubs. But I guess there is only so much one can ask of a smaller, private, academically centered university in Western New York, as compared to one of the largest cities in the country. However, students should know how great it feels to be a part of that type of fun-loving, spirited community.
Anyone can make fun of me for rooting for the Bears and the Cubs, tell me how awful they are all they want, but I will not stop cheering them on. That is often what makes sporting events so fun anyway. Each win is that much more special, and far more exciting than any Patriots or Yankees win. But most of all, it is exhilarating to be a part of the larger group of people who stand by you, win or lose, rain or shine. The other fans are, in some obscure way, like a massive, extended family, most of whom I never have and never will meet.
That being said, I still become so excited every time I see someone wearing a Cubs shirt or a Bears hat, because I know those people share the unconditional love that a true Chicago sports fan embodies.
Seligman is a member of the class of 2012.