Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Super Bowl XLI Rooting Interest:
The First Glimmer of NFL Fandom

It's Gabe's first Super Bowl. His NFL fan affiliation is still undefined, so he gets a nice chance to simply pick one of two options: Colts or Bears.

There are a couple of factors that are going into the decision-making mix:

(A) His existing fan allegiances. Gabe's Florida Gators fandom has two significant implications: (1) He has an interest in rooting for Rex Grossman. (2) He has an interest in rooting against Peyton Manning.

(B) His family birthright. Gabe's paternal grandfather's family is huge Chicagoan. I have to imagine that "Grandpa" -- a Bears fan -- would like to see his only grandson get behind the Bears.

(C) His father's complicated history. (With the Bears, specifically.) Mostly from my dad's influence, I grew up a huge Bears fan. Settle in for some backstory:

I was 12 -- arguably the most formative year for any fan -- for the Bears' 1985 season.

More than that, I grew up a Bears fan in Washington, D.C. I can't stress enough the effect of displaced fandom on a kid in heightening interest.

(What makes that so interesting is that when I finally got to Chicago full-time, for college, and I was finally surrounded by "my people," my love for the team eroded. Ultimately, I stopped liking the NFL altogether, but that was a function of working for the NFL and another story altogether.)

I never regained the die-hard love of the Bears that I had as a kid. But I have always maintained a sympathy (even this season, when I adopted the Jaguars -- thanks, Deadspin!). It's interesting: While I lost my passion for rooting FOR the Bears, I could never imagine rooting AGAINST them.

And so even though I picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl in my preseason picks (over the Bears, I have to add), I will be rooting for the Bears on Sunday -- a residual feeling from my fandom as a kid.

Only 9 months old, Gabe has no real choice in the matter, but I think that given the factors above, he'll be rooting for the Bears, too. At least, that's the direction we'll be pushing him.

And, for the first time, I'm wondering what NFL team he'll be a fan of when he finally has the cognitive ability to make a choice. Will it be the Bears? Is it possible that his experience this weekend will leave some sort of subconscious imprint on him?

-- D.S.

P.S.: I'm in Chicago this week for work, and I was going to pick up a Rex Grossman jersey for Gabe to wear. But they're $40! That's ridiculous. So I'm going to Photoshop an image I'll iron on to a blank white onesie: "Future Sex Cannon." A better homage to Grossman, I cannot imagine.


GuyInTheCorner said...


I simply clicked on the Varsity Dad link because I had no idea what it was. Judging by the number of comments for the posts over here, I'm guessing that nobody knows this thing exists. I do not remember you mentioning it on the other blog. I think there might be people from the other blog that would read, but that's assuming that they know about it. I think I will continue to read and eventhough percentage-wise that may seem like an increase in readership, I'm only one person.

YQJ said...

This will be my daughter's first Super Bowl this year as well. Last year I had to work during the game (stupid job) so she didn't get a chance to watch. I already know she will love it judging from her reaction to the NHL all-star game.

Tim S. said...

(said in one of those infomercial voices)

"You mean there is more?!"

*adds to blog favs*
I'm gonna have to go against you, I think I'd even go Colts -9.5. I'm not a colts fan....but ask yourself: How many other starting NFL QBs would you rather see across from you than Rex? Can you count them on more than one hand? two?

When in doubt, just remember: