To the Chicago Bears: Thank You for Sucking

No, really. I mean it. You’re making this so much easier on me.

I grew up on Da Bears. Some of my earliest sports-related memories involve the Super Bowl Shuffle. I was four when it came out and I have this vague recollection of making my dad play the tape in his car.

The Bears are bone deep here in Chicagoland. The Bulls had our love in the ’90s but never managed to maintain Chicago’s loyalty after Michael, Scottie, and Phil went elsewhere. The Blackhawks have had a bit of a resurgence of late, but Bill Wirtz tried his hardest to kill the franchise and we don’t yet know what it looks like to live in a Chicago where the Blackhawks are on TV but also not a perennial threat to win the Stanley Cup. The Cubs almost have the same level of loyalty as the Bears, but there’s the small matter of that team down on the South Side that’s actually won a World Series this millennium. I’ve often said that in most years fall is the time where all of gets over arguing whether the Cubs or the White Sox suck more to agree on the one thing all Chicagoans can agree on: the Bears are gonna suck.

We have a weird love-hate relationship with our franchises here. It’s important to each of the major professional sports leagues that Chicago has a team (or two). This is the third-largest city in the nation, after all. It’s a huge market that’s made an oversized contribution to the American cultural, economic, and historical landscape. Even though it’s important that Chicago has a franchise it doesn’t seem to actually matter if Chicago ever wins the last game of the season. The Bulls dominated the ’90s and were barely a footnote before or after. The Blackhawks won a couple of Stanley Cups in recent years but before that their last championship was in the 1960s. The Bears have won exactly one Super Bowl. The White Sox had a World Series drought from 1917 through 2005 that wasn’t as big of a deal as it should have been since the team up on the North Side started theirs a decade earlier and still haven’t quite managed to end it.

And yet Chicagoans still go to the games. We still watch on TV. We still buy the merchandise. We try to talk ourselves into believing that we’ve suddenly entered an alternate dimension where Jay Cutler or Jim Miller or Chris Chandler is going to take us to the Promised Land.

I find myself less and less enthusiastic about sports these days. It started, oddly enough, with the White Sox winning the World Series. I was, and am, a White Sox fan. I started going to Old Comiskey in grade school. I knew the pain of loving a losing team and also being mocked by most of the people I knew since they were all Cubs fans. And then 2005 came along and it was magical and I bought all of the t-shirts and it didn’t change a damn thing.

This is the dirty little secret of sports. They do not matter at all. We make a religion of them but being a fan of the New York Yankees has exactly the same impact on your life as being a fan of the Chicago Cubs. Thirty World Series wins doesn’t put any money in your pocket than zero, doesn’t make that attractive person at the bar want to go home with you, and doesn’t fix a flat tire.

It’s all just a distraction.

I don’t watch a lot of baseball anymore. I haven’t watched much basketball since Michael retired (the, um, second time? It’s hard to keep track). I never put the Blackhawks onto my rotation. The last sport that I really watched was football because Da Bears are as Chicago as deep dish pizza, insisting it’s still the Sears Tower, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This year, though, everyone knew it was going to be a special kind of suck. The roster was depleted. Jay Cutler was still on it. Robbie Gould wasn’t. They couldn’t put points on the board during a preseason game.

I’ve watched maybe two minutes’ worth of football this season. I didn’t think that I’d actually be able to quite cold turkey like this. But, thanks to the Bears, it’s been real easy.

I’ve been having a harder and harder time justifying supporting the NFL of late. The concussion issue is a problem. The league looking the other way while its players commit domestic abuse is a much larger problem. Billionaire owners crying poverty and holding entire cities for ransom to get a new stadium when the roads are falling apart and the schools are barely funded is simply awful.

I actively dislike doing anything to support the NFL. It’s been hard the last couple of years, since supporting Da Bears is simply part of life in Chicago. We all know they’re not going anywhere but we still watch.

Not anymore. The Bears have finally hit a point that’s low enough that I don’t have to care.

So thank you for sucking, Chicago Bears. Through your absolute helplessness I can finally stop supporting the NFL in any way, shape, or form.


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