Coping with defeat: advice from the enemy
You know what's a bad idea? Divulging in the second sentence of your first column for a central Illinois publication that you are a die-hard Packers fan. Nonetheless, I cannot deny my true colors, and my loyalty lies north of Illinois. You may spot me around campus sporting my Packers gear with pride, reveling in my obvious role as the villain as far as football fanhood goes on UI's campus.
Okay, now the part where I try to save face before you punch my mugshot and throw this paper away; I'm here to offer a bit of friendly advice.
I've grown up with Bears fans, and I have a great respect for them. They treat me like a heathen because of my love for green and gold, and honestly, that's exactly how I would hope Packers fans would treat a stray Bears backer located in central Wisconsin. Bears fans may be from the opposite perspective, but they feel the same way about football as Packers fans. This fact is largely behind the “respectful hatred” feeling that the Packers-Bears rivalry has.
Game frustrations aside, the season is over in Chicago now, and Bears fans, I know you've got it bad. The importance of that game goes unspoken, and I myself lost sleep last week just thinking about the potential agony of defeat.
Last season, the Packers had a young upstart nucleus that surprised people. Our fans were excited that Aaron Rodgers was panning out superbly, we were confident going into the post-season and dying to get a third chance at the gray-bearded traitor donning that ugly shade of purple that we hated more (and respected less) than Chicago's navy blue and orange. We had a first round game against the Arizona Cardinals, who we had crushed just a week prior. After a wild finish and a gut-wrenching defeat in overtime by a score of 51-45, I had the wind knocked out of me completely. I spent the next three weeks ignoring the post-season and looking for anything to get my mind off of football. It had me asking myself, like a befuddled king once did, “what should I do?”
So here's the point I'm getting at: Derrick Rose can cure your gridiron blues.
Heartbroken from a third overtime playoff exit in four appearances, I switched gears and abandoned football for the promising pastures of basketball. I was raised during the glorious climax of the Jordan era, and have been a Bulls fan since birth. I threw myself into the Chicago Bulls last year and became an avid regular season basketball fan (I was accustomed to tuning in for late-season drama and post-season only). Gone from my mind is the notion that players are playing half-hearted basketball in January and throughout the regular season in general, at least in Chicago. Derrick Rose is an amazing talent to watch night-in and night-out, and I immediately became aware that ESPN's highlights do not do him justice. Add in the emotion of Joakim Noah and the entertainment value of watching guys like Blake Griffin and former Illini great Deron Williams exhibit their own greatness, and you've got something that's fun to watch, and can help get your mind off of the bitter cold of Sunday's defeat.
Another great thing about basketball is that it's not nearly as stressful on the average fan as football season. In the NFL, every game counts so heavily, whereas in the NBA, you have 82 games to play with. It's okay to lose some as long as you get to see Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony put on a scoring clinic and don't get totally humiliated. Losing an NBA game on a buzzer beater hurts, but you can redeem the loss in no more than three or four days, and admittedly, it's still pretty exciting even if it doesn't go your way.
So Bears fans, I'm not going to pretend like I'm not thrilled that Green Bay is headed to the Super Bowl, and getting there through Chicago made it sweeter for multiple reasons. All I'm saying is, it doesn't have to be the end of the world. Change gears, catch some of Derrick Rose's current MVP-caliber season. His sheer athleticism and play-making ability make him one of the most thrilling players to watch in the entire league. I promise his knees work better than Jay Cutler's. The team that GM Gar Forman has assembled this season is exciting and bound to compete at the highest level when they return to full health. Even with the limited number of games played by Noah and Carlos Boozer, the team is 31-14 and in a close race for the number one seed in the conference, which would be a first for the team since Michael Jordan was dominating at the United Center.
This past weekend's game was a huge disappointment for Chicago, but luckily, fans of the city will have somewhere to turn to get over the blues of Cutler's MCL, or B.J. “The Freezer” Raji's touchdown dance, or Sam Shields' two awesome interceptions, or Rodgers' touchdown saving tackle, or Devin Hester getting utterly shut down–should I stop?
Instead of getting all worked up about the game for weeks and weeks and taking it out on Packers fans with brute force (because really, those Crime Alerts make our campus look bad), turn elsewhere for now and get behind the best thing Chicago sports have going for them: the Chicago Bulls.