Chicago sports fans shouldn’t have to settle

By Quinn Milton

A beautiful thing happened on April 18: Four major Chicago sports teams won their respective games. What’s even cooler is that two of those games were playoff games—the Bulls and the Blackhawks—which hasn’t happened in 17 years.

Since then, however, there has been criticism about these teams’ subsequent losses, but that’s just as it should be. Fans have gotten a taste of success, and now they shouldn’t expect anything less.

This double-win by the Hawks and the Bulls on April 18 has only heightened Chicago sports fans’ expectations for the future, considering the experience of the Calgary Flames and strong record of the Boston Celtics—the teams they beat, respectively. Prior to these past few years, fans might have only dreamed of this scenario.

Hawks games weren’t selling out (they haven’t made it to the playoffs in seven years), and bleacher seats were an easy sell at a Cubs game. But over the past few years, these teams have gotten close to the top, and now it’s time to go all the way.

Fans have helped fuel this newfound success, but they shouldn’t stop there. Ever since the wins, it’s become harder and harder for them to settle for a loss, and they have become justified in their harsher criticism—greater expectations, undoubtedly, lead to greater disappointments. It shouldn’t be overlooked, however, that managers have done their part to create teams that can’t meet fans’ raised expectations.

The Blackhawks have one of the youngest teams in the league. And one of their youngest players, 20-year-old Patrick Kane, just happens to be 2008’s Rookie of the Year.

Another of their young players, Jonathan Toews, 21, is the team’s captain. The Bulls’ Rookie of the Year, Chicagoan Derrick Rose, is also only 21 years old. These teams are making a conscious effort by adding impressive young talent to their rosters.

The only problem—if you can call it one—is that these promising new players are leading our teams to success, and fans are right to want more.

Recently, the Chicago Bears signed 26-year-old Jay Cutler, the Bears’ first franchise quarterback since Sid Luckman back in 1939. Cutler is a huge step forward for the Bears, who can now say they have an experienced pro bowl quarterback to add to their lineup.

While the Bears had a less-than-favorable 2008-09 season, I don’t need to remind Chicagoans that they made it to the Superbowl in the 2006-07 season. This year, with the strides the Bears have made in the off-season, fans shouldn’t be afraid to express their expectation that the team overcome the Superbowl loss against the Colts with a win in 2010.

One Chicago sports team is often referred to as the “lovable losers,” (specifically, the Cubs, who now have not won a World Series in 101 years). While it’s promising that at least our teams are lovable, let’s try to drop the “losers” bit—that’s just not who we are anymore. There is no doubt that White Sox fans haven’t forgotten the team’s World Series win a mere four years ago. Even Cubs fans can show some Chicago pride and appreciate that win, if just a little bit.

Fans should continue to show their love for Chicago sports by not accepting sloppy passes or lazy plays.

The media is in on the criticism, and fans shouldn’t hold back either. We’re not going to sit back anymore and respond to a loss with passiveness and the staple, “Just wait until next year.”

The Cubs have won their division the past two years. And in 2008, both the White Sox and the Cubs made it to the playoffs. We know now what our teams are capable of doing, and we’re not just going to settle for mediocre anymore.

There’s a lot of pride in this city, and now that we actually have something to back up that pride, let’s continue to raise the bar and “root for the home team.”

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