For Some, Sunday’s Bears Game a Step in the Right Direction
After that horrific display of football on Sunday against the Seahawks, you’d think that Bear fans everywhere would be devastated. Dejected. Ticked off. Outraged. But for many that I know, and that I’ve heard on talk radio or around the water cooler, Sunday’s pathetic loss to Seattle was just what they were pining for. Indeed, there is a certain faction of Bear fandom that loves what they saw on Sunday. They loved watching Jay Cutler fear for his life. They loved watching Mike Martz stubbornly call pass play after pass play, even though his QB had no time to throw and his receivers weren’t making their cuts. They loved watching Earl Bennett get caught from behind by three Seahawks, one of whom I’m pretty sure was a linebacker. They loved watching Tim Jennings miss tackle after tackle, and Charles Tillman get burned by a no-name receiver. They loved watching a bad NFL team.
These are the Bear fans that want Lovie Smith and his slew of former head coaches out of town.
Now as someone who has been rooting for the Bears the entirety of my 34+ years, I can’t really take part in this type of rationale. Don’t get me wrong, I think Lovie Smith is garbage. I think his dated ‘Tampa 2′ defense is garbage. I’m tired of his ‘say-nothing’ press conferences and his evasive interviews. I’m tired of him pronouncing the word ‘far’ as ‘for’ (as in the statement, “as ‘for’ as”). I don’t like looking at him, and I don’t like listening to him talk. I’m sick of screaming at the television after yet another one of his meathead challenges (or lack thereof). Nonetheless, whatever it is that makes me a Bears fan will not allow me to actually root against them. How can I be a fan of a team while at the same time longing for their immediate demise?
These people would argue that they are thinking long-term. They have the grandiose rationale that if the organization would get rid of Lovie, the Bears as a whole would be better off for years to come, and hence, this is something Bears fans should ultimately want. You want the Bears to be good? Get rid of Lovie. How do you get rid of Lovie? Lose. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand their point, I really do. But there are a couple of flaws in this logic, allow me to explain.
First, if the Bears are 14-2, what do I care who the hell is their head coach? They could have Kim Jong-il in a headset on the sidelines for all I care. As a fan of the Chicago Bears, I want wins and I want them NOW. The entertainment I receive from rooting for a professional sports team is not, at its core, deliberate or conscious. It is visceral and effortless. While I’m watching a game, I’m not thinking about how Bill Cowher could help my team in the coming years, I’m ROOTING. Rooting for my team to win. That game. Then. That’s the payoff for being a fan – the feeling that I get when my team wins. I’m a ‘fan’ because I want that feeling. If I watch a game without being a fan, then I’m just watching some dudes play football. I’m not rooting. There’s no payoff.
Another major flaw in the logic of these fans is their assumption that if Lovie is canned, the organization will bring in a coach who will make the team better for years to come. Do these people remember the hair-lipped Dave Wannstedt? Creepy ol’ Dick_Jauron? The complete disaster that was the almost-hiring of Dave McGinnis? And who do they think hired the evil Lovie Smith anyway? Can we really put our faith in an organization with a track record like this, one that’s headed by a 100 year-old woman no less?
Also, let’s say the Bears under Lovie Smith this year, win out and finish the regular season 14-2 as I surmised above. Would those fans who wanted Lovie out really be disappointed? Oh yes I can hear them now, “Oh whoa is me, the professional football team of which I’m a fan is in the playoffs and has the best record in the league, but LOVIE SMITH IS OUR COACH. Oh how I wish I could enjoy this moment, but nay I cannot, for LOVIE SMITH IS MY COACH. That first round bye and division title mean nothing to me because now they’re going to RE-HIRE LOVIE SMITH.”
And that’s another thing – if the Bears do win this year, will they do it in spite of their head coach? If a team does go 14-2, shouldn’t some of the credit go to a coach and his staff? Just as if they go 2-14 some of the blame goes to the coach and his staff? Hey Lovie haters I’m with ya, trust me. But if he is as bad as we think he is, he’ll take care of the losses all by himself. Don’t root against your team – that’s just silly.
Further, one cannot call himself/herself a fan of a team or organization if they wish that team or organization to lose. I would even submit that these very people, after a loss, aren’t REALLY happy. They might say they are, and feel somewhat vindicated in their belief that Lovie sucks, and claim that this is a good thing, that this loss is good for the Bears organization and their fans. But I know most of them are like I am after a Bears loss: ticked off. The real fans are anyway.
So this Sunday against the Redskins, if you’re a Bears fan, root for your team, please. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you think Lovie Smith is a great head coach. It doesn’t mean you agree with his philosphy or the football decisions he makes (poorly). All it means is you enjoy that feeling you get when you care about something but don’t need to know why. When a team’s failure is your failure, and their success is your success. And those successes can sure feel good.
Jonathan Daniel Getty Images