The perfect storm, or the two weeks in October when sports are king | Fall Preview | Chicago Reader

The perfect storm, or the two weeks in October when sports are king 

Chicago's fall frenzy makes fairweather fandom fun.

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click to enlarge Maybe, just maybe, this is the Bears' year.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the Bears' year.

Jeffrey Phelps

For Chicago sports fans who pay just a visit or two to Wrigley each season—usually thanks to the good fortune of free tickets—or swivel a bar stool away from a plate of nachos only after they hear a collective "Hurrah!" hurled at a wall of TVs, the two weeks from October 18 through October 31 are a welcome distraction from a slow descent into cold and darkness. They brim with camaraderie between fellow Chicagoans. They make being fairweather fun. And for Chicago sports fans fraught with anxiety and a sense of obligation to consume every pivotal highlight as though they're witnessing the birth of their firstborn, that stretch is all-consuming and agonizing. In a good way, of course.

So what brings the fair-weather and the fanatic together? Well, the Bears aren't usually enough games into the NFL season for all hope to be lost yet (though the New England Patriots come to town on October 21, so if the Packers loss didn't do it, that might). The NBA tips off so early now—a recent trend as the league capitalizes on its uptick in popularity—that the Bulls open their season on October 18 against the Philadelphia 76ers, followed by their home opener against the Detroit Pistons on October 20. And by this point, Northwestern is well deep into the annual Big Ten football melee; they play a formidable Wisconsin squad on October 27. Not to mention the Chicago Fire—who, it's true, are not very good currently—or whatever club you might've adopted from the English Premier League, which is in full swing by late October.

And then there's baseball. Since the reemergence of Cubs relevance four years ago, former north-side naysayers now strut around with an air of confidence that this Cincinnati Reds fan finds both foreign and disconcerting. A title will do that. So imagine my struggle come the National League Championship Series and World Series—in both of which the Cubs could very conceivably take part. Both fall during those blessed two weeks.

And now onward to the endless jockeying for decent bar seats, the ordering of delivery pizza several days in a row, the neglect of family . . . Some fans see to those tasks year-round, but even they should do right by embracing the fans only there for the spectacle. No one wants to yell obscenities at a TV alone.   v

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