Lament of a lifelong Bears fan

What does a Chicago native do when her adopted city has Packermania?

The author is a mother, wife, professor, clinician and intense sports fan who lives in Chico. She writes a weekly blog for ChicagoNow, an online news magazine, called “South Side Sports Chick” that integrates sports culture, psychology and politics. The photo was taken at the Bears-Seahawks game Jan. 16.

While growing up on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s, my brain was neurologically encoded with an intense passion for the Chicago Bears and White Sox. As a little girl, I’d sit shotgun in my father’s taxicab and listen to the games on the radio. I watched, listened, and absorbed every emotion exchanged between my father and his passengers—their cheers, rants, moans and groans: about a coach, a player and, of course, every loss. It was music to my ears—and soul.

Unlike Californians, we had no mountains to hike, camp or ski in. We had no ocean to surf in or watch a beautiful sunset from. But we had our sports teams! Come September, we’d be resigned to another forgetful season of the White Sox—but now we had: Da Bears!

Running backs and middle linebackers were our claim to fame. What else could you do with a football, in sleet and hail and blizzards? Gayle Sayers and Dick Butkus represented our great “City with Broad Shoulders” as no one else could. They gave us excitement and thrills, regardless of the outcome. We lived for every Sunday from September to December. And then moved on. Hope springs eternal, I suppose.

So living in Chico right now is beyond anything I’d expect you newbie Packers fans to understand. You’ve had your thrills with Montana and Rice. And now you’ve got your hometown man to cheer for. And I probably would too, living here more than 35 years, and knowing many people with close ties to the Rodgers family.

But! He’s a Packer! A Cheesehead! The Bears’ biggest rival, from the time my grandfather was making bathtub gin on the west side of Chicago! When Aaron wasn’t drafted by the 49ers, but instead went to the Green and Yellow, my heart was pulled out of me. My sons were in shock. Words unbecoming mankind laced the telephone conversations between me and every member of my huge, extended family in Chicago. My husband could only shake his head and try to soothe us all.

“It’s just six weeks to spring training,” my cousin told me yesterday. “Yes, Allan, but at least you’ve got an entire city you can mourn with.” Me? I’m stuck in this depressing twilight zone. No cab to ride in with my father. No Joy in Mudville. My Bears went into hibernation much too early, and I will too. And then I’ll try to move on. Again.