EDITOR’S NOTE: Can you root for a non-Chicago team and call yourself a “true Chicagoan?” We asked two ChicagoSiders to go head to head. Evan F. Moore begins, and Jim Coffman responds.
Can folks call themselves true Chicago sports fans and root for teams outside the city? Sure they can. And they can do so in a flower-filled meadow while watching blissful Cubs and Sox fans frolicking in perfect harmony.
Listen, if you’re a Chicagoan and you want to root for Manchester United (although, geez, you might as well be a Yankee fan), I’ve got no problem with it. But the Cardinals or the Twins? Nah.
My colleague, Mr. Moore, cites a Chicago-based Colts fan who won “a ton of cash” thanks to Peyton Manning not quite choking away Super Bowl XLI against Rex Grossman’s Bears. He mentions another fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who admits his embarrassment at buying the “creamsicle jersey” from their pathetic first decade-plus of existence. So the first guy is a mercenary and the second is slightly less than a diehard. Plus, they both root for teams that have barely shown up on Chicago sporting radar during the past few decades.
At least they’re not Packers fans. But I wouldn’t use the words “sports fan” and “Chicago” in the same sentence for either of these mopes. Still, I pity these guys more than I dislike them for their ridiculous choices. The only guy who really gets me is Mr. Moore’s third and final fan, Mr. Muhammed, who declares himself a Detroit Pistons fan in part because a young friend convinced him when he was a kid that “the Bulls have no heart.”
That’s plain ignorant. And wrong at so many levels.
MJ lacked pulmonary power? Surely you remember some of the stiffs who won championship rings thanks to his ability to get the absolute most out of his talent night after night after night. No heart?
Hey, if he’d chosen the Pistons because of Isiah Thomas’ Chicago roots (West Side forever!) and the stories of Isiah’s mother protecting him from gangs so he could get an education, that would have been one thing. Thomas was not only the greatest point guard to ever come out of Chicago, he was the greatest player. But when he led the Pistons off the court with a few seconds remaining in the Bulls’ clinching victory in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals, he quit being a Chicagoan for this Chicago sports fan. Hasta luego, you tonto loco.
Once Jordan and the Bulls knocked off the Pistons, everybody wanted to be a Bulls fan. Even people in Detroit, I suppose. I hated those bandwagon jumpers more than anyone.
True Chicago sports fans are in for the long haul. And when their teams finally win, they know the satisfaction that only true fans can experience. You can go ahead and live here and root for a team other than the Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, or White Sox, but to do so is to diminish all future returns.
There is no way any fan base anywhere could have ever felt better than Chicago did in late January of 1986 when Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Mike Singletary, Dan Hampton and the rest of that amazing team finally brought it all home.
I would imagine a younger generation of full-on Chicago sports fans feels the same way about the Blackhawks of 2010.
But Mr. Moore’s fans wouldn’t know. And they never will.