What its Like to Cheer for Your Hated Rival...and Still Lose

By Paul Grossinger

Rivalries in sports are personal.

My dislike of the Green Bay Packers is visceral. I am a Chicagoan. In Chicago, we like tall buildings, talking to strangers, mustard on our hotdogs, and we hate the Green Bay Packers.

We hate their ridiculous cheese hats. We hate their Wisconsin brogue. We hate their gross habit of putting melted cheese on their hot dogs.

Most of all, we hate rooting for them to win.

Today, Chicago fans did the unthinkable. They rooted for the Green Bay Packers.

For several hours, after the Chicago Bears choked out a tight victory over the lowly Detroit Lions, Bears fans cheered loudly at every Packers first down. They prayed – reluctantly but fervently – for Packers touchdowns.

And it was all in vain. The Minnesota Vikings pulled out the victory over the Packers with a last second field goal, ending the game, sending the Vikings to the playoffs, and Bears fans home to stew over a long offseason.

Talk about the worst feeling in the world.

After the game, I was left thinking: should I have done it? Was it worth it?

I’ve never cheered for the Packers to win, not before this game. I’ve voted for Democrats and Republicans, cheered for Yankees and Red Sox, spurred on Michigan and Notre Dame. I’m not above controversy and contradiction. But I’ve never broken that almighty rule, never committed that Cardinal sin, never put on a cheese hat and sung Packer praises.

What its Like to Cheer for Your Hated Rival...and Still Lose
Dec 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) attempts to hand the ball off to Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) against the Detroit Lions during 2nd Half of a game at Ford Field. Bears won 26-24. Photo Courtesy By Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports.

That all changed today. Was it worth it for a slim Chicago shot at the playoffs – and a likely first round exit the way the Bears have been playing?

I don’t know.

No, wait, I do know. It was. True, loyal fans stand for their team and hope for its success. Even at the expense of their principles. True fans put everything moral on the line, principles first, hoping fervently for the win.

Today, hope was not enough.

But, next time this happens, if it ever does, you’ll again find me screaming Packers praises.

Why? Because I’m a Bears fan.

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