Bears, Bulls & Cubs
I have always viewed people who supported more than one team with condescension and this extended to other sports as well. Being a Charlton fan is a full time job and takes up a lot of nerve endings. Apart from a penchant for Kent County Cricket Club
I have never had the time nor inclination to support or follow anyone else.
On the odd occasion when I got invited to attend games not involving Charlton I would accept and look forward to just enjoying a game of football but during the 90 minutes I would find myself becoming apathetic to what was going on on the pitch and eventually lose interest. This was because I had no emotional attachment to what was going on.
So when I came to Chicago I knew I would struggle to find room for another sporting love in my life.
First of all I took in Chicago Fire
, who are one of Major League Soccer's (MLS) 10 teams. I have been to see them a few times, but I really really struggle to find an ounce of passion in my body to support them. They have a couple of reasonable players - Southampton are courting winger DaMarcus Beasley - but the standard is poor, and Fire are one of the better sides in the MLS. They play in the huge Soldier Field and their small but noisy fans (mostly 2nd generation Europeans & families) are swallowed up by the huge arena. They do play in red, which helps, but they are not Charlton and I can't get excited about them. And their 'star' forward Ante Razov is crap and he annoys me a lot.
I was a little too late for the Chicago Bears'
season which ended prematurely at about the same time as Santa's work for the year. And anyway I am still coming to terms with American Football and I think I need some more time to appreciate it.
Next up was the hugely popular Chicago Bulls
who according to urban myth and the record books were pretty awesome in the mid to late 90's when Michael Jordan was shaking his thang in the Windy City. Tickets are still hard to come by and the Bulls suffer huge expectation levels, but I saw them play a few times and quite enjoyed the experience even though they are clearly rubbish.
Now basketball is one of those typical American sports where 3 minutes can last 20, they don't do draws and fans wearing big plastic hands are awoken from their stupor by loud bursts of 'We will rock you' being played over the loud speaker. I don't get it, it ain't football, it ain't Charlton.
But there is hope. Throughout the winter when I was struggling to come to terms with the cold, I kept getting told of hot summer days drinking beer and watching the Chicago Cubs
in the ivy clad bleachers.
There are two baseball teams in this City, the Cubs in the North and the White Sox in the South and this actually causes friction and rivalry. This is more like it I thought.
I have taken to the Cubs because it is about 2 miles from my apartment and have been 6-7 times already this season. There are a 160 odd games a season (!) and they play most days in front of 40,000 people! Surely they can't all be in insurance?
The Cubs stadium Wrigley Field is 90 years old and by American standards holds a lot of history and tradition. Sure, watching them is like being at a party - the stadium is surrounded by bars - much to the distaste of more 'serious' Sox fans - but it is fun, easy to follow and for the first time at an American sporting event I have actually shown a bit of animation
Sammy Sosa hitting a home run is not quite the same as Jason Euell scoring a goal but its a start!