Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bears vs. Packers? Eh!

They say it wasn't, but was 'Chicaco' intentional?
All around me, I have seen the signs of excitement this past week as people get all worked up over the thought of the Chicago Bears playing the Green Bay Packers for the right to play  in the Super Bowl come Feb. 6.

Yet I have to make a confession – one that may cause the more rabid among us to suggest that I can’t be a true Chicagoan. I could care less.

I’M NOT GOING to be among the people anxiously parked in front of a television set on Sunday so that I can see the game that some people are trying to claim is the biggest event in the history of Chicago sports. I’m definitely not going to be among the people who will feel it to be a significant blow to the Chicago psyche if that dinky town in Wisconsin manages to play for this year’s NFL championship against the winner of Pittsburgh Steelers/New York Jets.

Now it’s not that I have some problem with the Chicago Bears. I realize they are a long-standing, tradition-rich professional football franchise. I also appreciate that this conference championship game involves two long-standing teams with a real rivalry, and the fact that the Packers are a holdover from the days when pro football had teams in places like Canton, Ohio, and Decatur, Ill.

In short, I get why some people want to think this is the biggest Chicago sports event ever, although I personally think it’s not even the biggest Chicago sports happening of the weekend. The White Sox declaring that Ozzie Guillen will return as manager in 2012, instead of leaving him twisting in uncertainty, is more significant.

My thing is that I personally have never thought much of the game of football (the fact that I consider “soccer” to be the REAL football is a separate issue). I have twice been to games at Soldier Field. Maybe it was because I had crummy seats, but I wasn’t awed by the experience. The constant start-stop of action during a game leaves me cold.

IN FACT MY lasting memory of my first Bears game (’79 preseason against the Jets) wasn’t the score. It was the sight of the Honey Bears on the sidelines, being very appealing to my then-14-year-old warped sensibilities (along with my modern-day, 45-year-old mind).

We don’t even have the Honey Bears in Chicago any longer. So I definitely can’t see the point of paying thousands of dollars per sear to see the game (don’t even bring up the winter weather conditions that spectators will have to cope with).

Even the Chicago Sun-Times felt the need all week to get itself into "Bears-mode."

Insofar as football on television is concerned, I have a hard time concentrating on any sports broadcast – even a game in which I have a legitimate interest. Constant commercial interruptions distract me too much (I really don't understand those people who say they watch the Super Bowl for the commercials), along with all the repetitive crowd shots and close-ups meant to show us the facial pores of every single athlete on the playing field.

So I’m not eager to spend an afternoon watching television. Even if I were, I’d want to watch something more interesting than a football game that could wind up being a badly-played one.

IN FACT, I’D have to say my biggest problem is the fact that all the hype is being put on this game. The idea that this is the biggest sports event ever for a Chicago team is nonsense. We won’t know how the game ranks (or if it even comes close to qualifying) until after the game is over.

Some people are too determined to hype Sunday’s happenings, which is why I fully expect someone to get their butt whomped and the game to turn out to be a complete disappointment (I’m not saying who will be disappointed).

In fact, if there was a sports event I would have liked to have seen this weekend, it would have been my alma mater’s basketball teams from Illinois Wesleyan University, who were in Chicago Saturday night to play North Park University, that school at Foster and Kedzie avenues that a couple of decades ago was among the elite of small college basketball (three straight national championships back in 1978-80, along with two more back in ’85 and ’87 when I was a student in Bloomington).

But freelance writing commitments (a.k.a., paying work) kept me from seeing the IWU 65-57 loss to the Vikings (although the women's team beat North Park 74-54), which in my mind is much more intriguing than any overhyped NFL television broadcast.


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