Why We Cheer: I'm a sick SOB
I have to admit something here that is very hard for me to say: I didn’t grow up a true Cubs fan (gasp).
Now I did grow up in the Chicagoland area where the reach of WGN was negated by the fact that I lived only 20 minutes away from Wrigley Field, but my baseball upbringing was one of bipartisanship.
My father, a man who works in the construction biz and has his share of connections (he’s kind of a big deal in case you can’t tell), always got free baseball tickets from clients and partners. He got free Cubs tickets and free White Sox tickets all the time.
Unlike a lot of parents who might influence or force their baseball views onto their children, my parents let my brother and I choose our fandom. There was no doubt both my parents had been Cubs fans their entire lives, but they never took the option to choose away from us. In fact, some of my most vivid early baseball memories of are the mid-90s White Sox and Frank Thomas crushing baseballs in every direction (please don’t kick me off this site).
I’d like to think the reason I was so apathetic towards a team was because I didn’t give a shit about baseball growing up. For starters, I was terrible a Little League player. I made Ted Lilly look like effin Babe Ruth at the plate. But as a kid with a short attention span, it was just boring. Soccer was the money sport. Everyone played that…although I was awful at soccer too.
Like a fine wine, however, baseball got better with age…and I remember the exact moment I became a true Cubs fan.
It was the summer of 2003 and I was starting my senior year of high school. The Cubs had become an interest of mine, but my main focus was on football. Baseball was still too slow for me. I “liked” the Cubs, but I didn’t have any particular interest in them besides going to games and looking at girls’ chesticles.
But as the season wore on and summer turned to fall, I found myself more attracted to the culture of being a Cubs fan. Sure they break you heart. Sure they spit in your face. Sure they abuse like a cheaply rented mule. But for some undeniable reason, I began to love it.
As we all know, the 2003 season was littered with “bandwagon” fans (or as I like to call them “drink lots of beer and feel up girls…and then there is that whole baseball thing”-wagon fans), but I wasn’t one of them. I was hooked into this team far beyond the point of it just being a fling.
I was ready to settle down, get a decent job, have a kid and make an honest team out of the Cubs. I was in it for the long haul.
Had the Cubs gone on to win the 2003 NLCS and perhaps the World Series – which I believe they would have – I might not be the fan I am today. Believe it or not, but I actually liked the pain. I liked the suffering. But most of all, I liked the fact that I (for some unknown reason) invested so much emotion into something that failed miserably and I actually wanted more. I’m one sick SOB if you can’t tell.
I attribute all of this to the ultimate payoff: The Cubs winning the World Series.
Over the months in which I watched the team closely, I developed a bond with the loser mentality. I began to understand what it felt like to have your dreams stepped on over and over again (let’s call this teenage angst…) like so many young people do. The Cubs were more than a baseball team, they were a representation of every high school loser who always dreamed of making it big some day.
They say the winter in Chicago builds character, but so does being a Cubs fan. This team something taught me something about loyalty and passion (cue violin) and they actually made me care for them. I takes a certain type of person the love the Cubs (no, not an S&M addict) and it takes a certain type of character to find that attractive.
Like I said, my parents raised me in a bipartisan baseball house. No disrespect to them or their parenting skills, but I am going to raise my kids as Cubs fans. It takes a special person to love this team, and that kind of passion cannot be created anywhere else. Period.
Plus when the Cubs final win the World Series and are able to call themselves champions, every moment of suffering and ridicule will be suddenly worth it…plus I’ll get really really drunk.
So why do we cheer? Because it hurts so good.