Fandom is a weird thing. It’s a cross between hopeless optimism and brutal fatalism, with a touch of immolation and joy sparkled in. It causes grown men to wear overpriced jerseys so they can look more like the players on the field. Vacations, road trips, weddings, and Bat Mitvahs are planned around it. Marriages have been lost and gained to it. People lived by it an people died by it. Fandom is as unexplainable as it is weird. It fills a void as much as it acts as a common demoninator between wide varieties of people across race, financial, and every other divide in the world.
But what forms do sports fandom take? I’m going to hone in on sports fandom because I don’t watch superhero movies. I saw the first Transformers movie and decided, “you know what, this is where i’m going to check out.” If you are reading this and shreiking “Transformers isn’t a super hero movie. How dare youuuu!” Yes, it is you fucking dork.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way. It wasn’t supposed to end with fans, who had stayed loyal for so long, to get a taste of glory only for them to get punched in the stomach, over and over again. It was supposed to be a new era. Not the penny pinching from the ghosts of ownership past. There was supposed to be a run of talent in the minor league system that allowed for big name free agents to come to the team, as a destination point.
But that is over now. Because the Cubs are now a fucking embarassment.
Being an adult sucks. No matter what think pieces written in large publications like The New York Times and Highlights Magazine tell you, there is no easy way to hit your post-fun-of-not-worrying-about-catching-an-STD days. Getting older involves a series of inevitable truths:
1: You will get a gym membership you will never use, even though you tell yourself this is the month you turn it all around.
2: You are going to develop opinions about certain craft beers you enjoy, no matter how many times you try to shake that feeling by drinking way too much Keystone Ice.
3: Stuff that you promised yourself you would never stress will come down on you like an avalanche. Examples include bills, affording diapers, and tapas.
4: You will lose your friends(more on this in a minute).
5: You are going to start to enjoy music you promised yourself you hated during their youth. You know how your dad always plays Electric Light Orchestra in his car when you are driving around with him? When he was young, he swore up and down that he would never like that shit, and that Black Sabbath was god. Keep that in mind when you are making fun of Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, and Pentatonix.
6: You know what? No. Fuck Pentatonix. They should be burned at the stake to redeem us from an angry god for all of our sins.
As the Bears fritter away a 5-1 start and find themselves fading into mediocrity for another season, it’s worth looking at the biggest reason they are here right now. In 2017, the Bears famously didn’t bring in Deshaun Watson before the draft because they were so taken with the kind of man Mitch “kissing titties” Trubisky was. He drove an economical car! He was so polite and well spoken! There were a lot of superlatives used to talk about how great of a quarterback they thought Trubisky would be. And all of those words that were ejaculated out of the mouths of Ryan Pace, Ted Philips, and the rest of the Apple Dumpling Gang in Lake Forest, Illinois, turned out to be completely meaningless.
Mitch turned into the Derek Zoolander of professional quarterbacking. He couldn’t throw left. The truth was, throwing to his right and deep downfield weren’t strong suits of his, either. Matt Nagy, who is increasingly in over his head and quite possibly headed for unemployment after the season, doesn’t have a fix and instead of trying to find new voices to help Mitch and the Chicago Bears offense, instead filled his coaching staff with sycophants and yes men, which created a shield around him to protect him from his own terrible play calling. Any doubts about his ability should have been quieted after Nick Foles, who he pushed for because HE KNOWS THE SYSTEM!! went out and completely crapped the bed, his pants, and everyone’s pants around him.
Every year, it happens. An inevitability like the sun rising, taxes being paid, and Rudy Giuliani being a public embarrassment. Besides Patrick Mahomes, the McRib, and horrible country music, it could be what America has come to be known for over the past few decades. It shows up in your email. It shows up in your mailbox. It shows up in targeted marketing ads while you are trying to watch tables get made on Facebook.
I’m of course referring to Black Friday. Every year, the spectre of saving a few dollars on a big screen tv and a chainsaw you don’t need (but what if you might, someday???) leads friends and family members to throw ‘bows with strangers in a Target parking lot, because their beloved CBS sitcoms are just so much more enjoyable on a 58 inch television screen that a 51 inch (oh that Sheldon Cooper, amiright?). It is what causes us to shred any sense of decency with the ferocity of Hulk Hogan tearing off his shirt in the eighties, just for the sake of getting 15 dollars extra off some Rachel Ray cookware that is inevitably going to bow and warp the moment you boil water in it. THOSE PANS ARE JUST FOR LOOKS, KAREN! YOU WEREN’T MEANT TO COOK IN THEM!
Welcome to the club! There are over 11 million of us now! I’m sure there is a lot going through your mind. Did you get this from a co worker? Did you get this from having some rough sex? Did you hit the jackpot and get this from having rough sex with a co worker? However it happened, you have a ton going through your mind right now. If you are anything like me, these are your thoughts
Am I going to die? Who did I get it from? Who could I have given it to? If I have to miss work, i’m never going to financially recover from this, Joe Exotic style.
Good news, my scared/curious friends, as someone who got Covid (and still had it after the election when idiots would have had you belief it was going to end), I’m here to guide you through everything you are about to experience. Let’s break down what you are about to go through over the next couple weeks.
In light of Sunday’s revelation that Donald Trump not only doesn’t pay taxes, but isn’t actually rich, it is worth remembering that it is the NFL’s fault that this governmental hellscape has befallen us. And no, i’m not referring to his fuming about players kneeling.
In 2014, Donald Trump wanted to purchase the Buffalo Bills. He wasn’t allowed to buy the team. Anyone care to guess why? You all know how Trump has gone to incredible lengths to hide his tax returns? He wasn’t so lucky when it came to the NFL. He wasn’t allowed to hide his tax returns to the NFL because they would have just told him to fuck off and sell the team to someone else. Then the NFL saw Trump’s tax returns and told Trump to fuck off and sold the team to someone else.
There was a time back before the internet, Sportscenter, Gene Michael’s Sports Machine, and other cable networks that the only way to catch your favorite sports highlights from around the world was to watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Starting in 1961, the show spent 37 years bringing highlights from the biggest baseball, football, basketball and hockey games. It was also the show that helped make Evel Knievel famous. He defied death numerous times while the show’s cameras were watching, and became insanely famous because of it. Along with great moments of sports achievements, they also showed epic fails. Race cars and skiers crashing. Runners stumbling over hurdles in big moments. It was a little bit of everything. It was famously known for it’s introduction at the beginning of every show, which said “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.”
This weekend, I experienced the gambling agony of defeat. Over. And. Over.
If you know me well, you know i’m a sports fanatic. It’s in my blood. It’s tattooed on my body. I love to watch it. I love to talk about it. I love to read about it. I love to write about it. I really love to write about it. Almost nobody read me last year, but that didn’t mean I didn’t write tens of thousands of words each week across a couple websites. It gave me an excuse to watch football every week and espouse my football virtures on the internets. Then it almost didn’t happen this year.
Thanks to a television show, name recognition, and a fairly aggressive national roll out, you have assuredly heard of Wahlburgers restaurant. The name sake of the Wahlberg brothers, it has pushed it’s way into the fast casual landscape with it’s selections of burgers and chicken. It’s newest location is in St. Charles, Illinois. Coincidentally, myself and my brother were in the neighborhood, thanks to a Facebook marketplace related impulse buy by my brother. Jukebox in hand, we decided to the new Wahlburgers. And as you can tell by the title, it was a goddamn disaster.
Some things can be excused. For example: this location had been open for less than a week. We showed up at 11:20 AM, after they had been open for only twenty minutes. There were a lot of employees with a questionable amount of training. Covid.