Yesterday at work, I noticed that almost everyone was Greenbay Packers jerseys. It felt like a coincidence at first, but then I walked by someone who was completely decked out - cheese hat, face paint, and all. This led me to bring it up in our morning stand-up. "What did the Packers do?" I asked. "It's the first game of the season tonight," someone replied. "They're playing the Bears." The team exchanged knowing smirks.
I had a pretty regular day at work. Lots of writing code and time spent in my headphones, which gave me time to think. I thought about the Bears. I've never been to a Bears game, but I've worn Bears Pajamas & t shirts, and I used to watch the games on TV with my dad. I remember going to a super bowl party with church fiends, where we ate nachos and chicken wings and watch Rex Grossman throw something like a dozen interceptions for the world to see, and all my friends and family yelling at the TV.
I thought about sports. Deep down, I've always feared that I jinx sports teams. I followed the Chicago Blackhawks very closely in sixth grade. I watched just about every game on TV, and I even got permission from my teacher to write last night's score on the chalk board every morning. It was a really terrible season. They didn't make the playoffs, and immediately after the NHL shut down for almost a whole season due to salary disputes. I've always wondered if I jinxed the season by watching.
After getting home, Marissa, Rod, and I jumped in the car to run some errands. Marissa and I talked about the game. She noticed all the Packers gear out in the wild too, and independently found out there was a big game tonight. Occasionally, we have the "which sports teams does are family support" discussion, and it was especially relevant then. "I could probably support the Packers," Marissa added. "My family would give me crap because they're all Vikings fans, but we live here now, and we should be proud Wisconsinites."
I winced. "I don't think I could bring myself to wear anything with a Packers logo. Do you think you could actually put on a Greenbay Packers shirt?" Marissa shrugged. "Yeah, I don't see why not. I think the Jerseys are cool. What's your issue with it?" That was a good question, and I didn't have a good answer. At the time of writing this, I don't think I have a single Bears logo in the house. But apparently I'm still enough of a Bears fan to instinctively hate the Packers. "I don't know," I replied. "It must be just psychological at this point. I'm getting a little anxious just picturing myself as a Packers fan, and I feel guilty just imagining it."
Marissa smirked, "I guess we're Bears fans. We should watch the game tonight and support them." I admired her bravery. She was convinced that she could follow any sports team she wanted, and from what I know about Minnesota, defecting to the Bears is equally as treacherous as defecting to the Packers.
When we got home, I put the game on the TV. Rodney instinctively sat on the couch on my lap with his milk and settled in. Having sports in the house constitutes a special occasion and is worthy of extending bedtime, so I decided to sacrifice story time and let him stay up to watch a few more drives. He watched the Packers take the lead and score a touch down. To give him the full football experience, I even yelled at the TV. "AH C'MON! Dang it." He happily joined me in my feigned enthusiasm. Even though I don't follow sports too closely, I've always enjoyed making little comments to myself between plays and trying to sound savvy, and Rodney was enjoying it. The second quarter ended with the Bears still trailing. I muted the TV and ushered Rodney up to bed. He took a final sip of milk, then quietly said to himself "Go Bears." We trudged up the stairs for bedtime.
The Bears lost last night. Maybe I jinxed them by watching the game, just like I did to the Blackhawks in sixth grade. But apathy and superstition doesn't excuse me from the fight. From what I've observed all my life, being a Bears fan is fraught with heartbreak and disappointments. But my family has chosen this path, and we walk together. Fellow Bears fans, I'll see you Sunday at 3:25PM.