I’m a Chicago sports fan, I haven’t lived in the Chicago area since 2001, but I grew up with the White Sox, Bears and Bulls. They are my teams. I followed them religiously as a kid: the winning ugly Sox of 1983, the Super Bowl shufflin’ Bears of 1985, the Jordan Bulls. They were my teams, and will always be a part of how I define myself as a sports fan.
My kids have grown up knowing my teams. I’ve told them stories about them, watched countless hours of their games on TV, and every year when the White Sox visit Seattle, we go to a White Sox game at Safeco field. But the thing is, they are my teams. My kids don’t follow them, they don’t really know the players (although my daughter still loves Charles “Peanut” Tillman, but mostly because she loved yelling “Peanut!” at the screen when she was little). They know that I’m happy when they win or lose, and that is enough for them right now.
But the Sounders—that’s our team. My son and I can connect on the Sounders. He can follow the team, learn the players, see them in person, get excited with the rest of Seattle when they win, and cry a little when they lose. It’s the bond I had with my teams growing up, and now we have it together with the Sounders.
Since his first game, early last year, he’s been to many more, and as we sit there in the stands, I can’t help but see myself, as a little guy, falling in love with the White Sox all those years ago. There is something about the feeling in a stadium: the fans, seeing the action unfold in front of you…it draws you in. You can be a fan without going to a game, but being at a game is what will hook you for life.
As we sat in the sun enjoying a game last month, I lined up a picture of us. Simply us, enjoying our team, and in our Sounders gear. My son, being a six year old boy, had to push his jelly bean into the picture. We laughed, and after a few efforts of getting it out of frame, I decided, screw it, the jelly bean stays. The smile on his face is worth it.
After I took the picture, my son kept eating jelly beans. He suddenly stopped, and calmly stated, “Dad, these aren’t Sounders jelly beans, they are Seahawks ones.” I cracked a smile: I had known they were for the Hawks, but the teams have similar colors, so my deception was an honest let’s-get-out-of-the-store attempt. But he is proving too smart for me. Before I could respond…
“Hey, we should go to a Seahawks game!”
My smile faded. I had a feeling the Bears held a tenuous position for him. The Hawks are too good, and right at the time when he’s starting to really pay attention to sports…but I didn’t want to give in right away.
“Well, they do play the Bears this season; we could go to that game.”
“Not a Bears game, a Seahawks game.”
Well, we have the Sounders.