Mel Kiper's Best Available – Prospector Sports Blog


This sports blog is written by some hardcore, opinionated Chicago fans who are not afraid to express their opinions.  We’re going to tell you what’s what in the sporting world, who’s doing well and who deserves a beating.  This blog will be updated every few days or so, so check back periodically to find out what’s up in the sporting world.
To be or not to be at the Bears game
By Mike Hammersley
Copy Editor
When my dad told me we’d be going to the Bears’ game Oct. 4, I was ecstatic. As for him, not so much.  “Sometimes it’s better to watch the game from home,” he said.
Better? From home? Blasphemy! How could it possibly be better? Going to Soldier Field, the Mecca of Chicago sports, is everyone Bears fan’s dream, right? So I decided to take all factors into account and make a sensible conclusion.
We walked into the admittedly ugly “spaceship,” as one writer called it, that is Soldier Field and I was immediately floored by how many fans were there 45 minutes early like me.  You’d think they were handing out free cars to the first 10,000 fans.  As we walked into the stadium, we were met by fans who had already done a little tailgating, and by tailgating I of course mean drinking. There were at least three groups of college guys yelling “BEARS!” at every turn, which was obnoxious, but funny at the same time.
I had asked my dad beforehand where our seats were, and he replied, “Right behind the end zone.” I know you’re thinking, “Wow, great seats!” Yeah, me too. Until we walked into the upper-upper deck and went, as Chris Berman would say, “Back back back back back… gone!”
We sat in the second-to-last row.
The game started, and I have to admit, seeing the plays from way up in the sky was pretty cool. You get to see the entire field, so you realize those people at home who scream at their TV saying, “He was wide open!” are idiots, because you see that there was a safety just outside the picture.   The scoreboard was almost impossible to see from our seats, and they make the advertising space so big that the actual down and yardage get smushed, making it hard to see. Also, they take forever to update the yardage, which gets annoying.
The atmosphere is surreal. I loved seeing all the characters at the Bears game. From saluting the beer man whose name was literally Major Taylor to harping on the lone Lions fan in the stadium who sat right behind us, I had a good time.   There was one man in particular who sat in front of us who really cracked me up. He was one of those long-time Bears fans who has seen so much go wrong with the team that he can’t help but hate some of it. He spent the entire game screaming at Ron Turner, the Bears’ offensive coordinator who is notorious for calling run plays up the middle, every time the Bears kept the ball on the ground. He made sarcastic remarks every time the Bears failed to get a first down, reminiscing of the team’s old offensive woes.
But he was a true Bears fan. He knew what players deserved the credit. Every time they punted, he let out a booming “Best Bear ever!” in honor of Brad Maynard, who lived up to his name by pinning the Lions inside the 20 three times.
The good part about having everyone around you is that the roar of the crowd adds a ton to the game. You don’t really get it from home; all you get is a slight noise increase. But when everyone around you is going nuts, when you’re giving high-fives to people you’ve never met before out of sheer joy, you’re having a great time.
Although being there was great, I felt like a malfunctioning Jack-in-the-box from the amount of times I had to stand up and down for people to come through or for a third down situation. One guy came back and forth five times with two beers in his hand, and I kept wondering how he kept his balance each time and shied away when he passed me, hoping he wouldn’t sway and spill booze on me.  Even though it felt like 20 Catholic church services in a row, my legs somehow made it through and I actually enjoyed standing some of the time.
Surprisingly, the food was excellent there. My cheeseburger was above average, my dad’s hot dog was decent and the fries were sublime. Not what I was expecting. I guess you have to make your food good when you only have eight home games per year.
Now on to the other factors. While my experience was great, without the perfect weather it would have been considerably worse. Standing up and down in frigid or rainy weather while listening to the guy in front of me complain every play would have been a bad headache.
The nature of the game was also perfect. The Bears played even with the Lions, going into halftime tied 21-21. They proceeded to pull away in the second half and take the game 48-24. The game was high-scoring, close and a rout all at the same time.   Admittedly, there were a few drives in a row where the Bears couldn’t get those 10 yards and punted, leading to another “BEST BEAR EVER” and more defense. That made me angry. So, if the weather is bad and the Bears are failing, I can realize my dad’s biggest fear; the Bears game could be a complete bust.
But, if you are a Bears fan at all, then you MUST go to Soldier Field and see them play at least once in your lifetime. It’s absolutely electric.  If you had all the money and means of transportation in the world, I would recommend going to the games up until about late October, when it gets too cold for comfort and too risky a venture to outweigh the benefits of holing up in a cozy basement with some close friends and all the food you could want.