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Sports Allegiances – Why Do We Keep Doing this to Ourselves?

With the Evergreen Park night at U.S. Cellular coming up in July the Evergreen Parker reflects on the teams he cheers for.

We just sent in our payment for four tickets to the White Sox-Minnesota Twins game on July 24. What's significant about that? It's the night thenight at U.S. Cellular Field. There are some pretty good deals on tickets to be had. If things keep going as they are for the Sox, I may actually be batting eighth and playing third base, in which case I hope the Sox refund my ticket price at least.

Like many teams that do not win titles frequently—or, let's face it, even contend much of the time—the Sox are a difficult team to love. Most sports teams either lose their last game of the season, or win a meaningless last game. Only a handful go home winners. Which means most of us face disappointment if our ultimate goal is to see the teams for which we cheer win a championship.

And yet, we keep coming back when the calendar turns the promise of next year to the reality of this year. Why is that? How do we keep hitting the "refresh" button on our loyalty when so often our teams leave us wanting more?

For me, I guess the answer is the similar to the reason I enjoy playing the lottery when the jackpot gets big. I know I'm not going to win, but from the time I buy the ticket to the moment the last number is drawn, I might have won. Buy the ticket, take the ride, as Hunter S. Thompson used to say. It's all about the ride.

I grew up an Angels fan for baseball, a Portland Trail Blazers fan for basketball, a Rams fan for football and a Flyers fan for hockey. Rams, Angels, Blazers, Flyers. They don't roll off the tongue nearly as well as "Jets, Mets, Knicks, Rangers," which was the answer an old editor of mine gave when I asked what teams he cheered for. Nor does it sound as good as "Bears, Sox, Bulls, Hawks." Too many syllables in mine, I think. Also, there's no geographic consistency to my list, which comes from growing up in a place where the only professional sport was basketball. (Although the Portland Winter Hawks sport the same Indian head sweater as the Blackhawks.)

The Winter Hawks sport some competitive teams now and then, but they're high school kids. It's hard to get too invested in the outcome of a game played by children. Some people do, though. The Blazers' travails have been well documented. Apart from a euphoric championship in the hazy days of the late 1970s, the team's efforts have been ultimately futile and occasional blatantly mocked. I stopped riding the Angels' roller-coaster after I moved from the West Coast, just in time for them to finally win it all in 2002. Figures, right? The Flyers maybe epitomize random futility. They're, like, the second most successful regular-season team in NHL history, but have only two Stanley Cups to show for it. There was a time when I would have thrown something at the TV when Patrick Kane scored the Cup-clinching goal for the Blackhawks in 2010, but if there was any team I felt it was OK for the Flyers to lose to, it was the Blackhawks. I live here now, after all.

Which brings me back to the White Sox. After returning to Chicago in 2003 I figured it was time to choose a baseball team. The decision to go with the Sox was based on two things: 1. We were living in Bridgeport at the time and we could walk to the Cell. 2. My non-scientific statistical analysis informed me the Cubs had a lot of fans already, while there were nights we had our own section at the Cell. So I went with the closer, less popular team. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

FYI, for more information on the Evergreen Park night at the ballpark, you can check out the Village of Evergreen Park Grand Slam Group.

Russ Petrick May 16, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I grew up in Oaklawn as a White Sox fan. I moved to Florida 30 yrs ago and am still a Sox fan as well as Bears, Bulls and Hawks. I can't tell you how many times I said I'm done with the Sox. But every year, I stil go to Tampa to see them play and get the baseball package on cable to see their games. When I come home to Chicago, it's always during baseball season to see the Sox play. I don't why it's so difficult to give up on them when they're not doing well but I just can't give up on them. The one thing I have no problem with is disliking the Cubs, go Sox.!!!

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