Sports across the world are starting to come back with various protocols in place for athletes, team personnel and more to do so safely while the COVID-19 global pandemic is still going on.
Hockey isn’t one of those sports, so the Second City Hockey staff and others look to other sports for entertainment. What are your favorite teams in sports outside of hockey? MLB, NBA, NFL, NCAA, soccer, etc. ? As most of you reading this, we’ve grown up cheering for teams from Chicago, but there are some surprising exceptions. In the comment section, let us know what teams you root for when you aren’t cheering the Blackhawks and what you think of our picks.
My first real job out of college was in Southeast Texas as the Astros started to turn the corner. Baseball, among other sports, was one of the ways I connected with people and made friends (shocking that I have friends, I know). The fact teams from the area I grew up and the first place I called home on my own won the World Series in back-to-back years was pretty sweet. You can put an asterisk on 2017 if you want. And if you’re wondering, I’d pull for the Cubs over the Astros in a World Series.
After the Bulls’ golden era, I lost most of my interest in the sport. This isn’t a hockey vs. basketball thing, basketball for whatever reason hasn’t resonated with me. I can’t remember the last time I watched a Bulls game.
The Bears are mediocre and they should feel bad, but they don’t. I’m a ‘91 born, which means in my life they’ve won five playoff games. Five playoff wins in almost 30 years. How is that acceptable in this city?
It’s a family thing to pull for the Irish, and yes this fandom makes my birthday suck since they rarely win bowl games on New Year’s Day. I started to like OSU because of its historic wrestling program and head football coach Mike Gundy’s epic “I’m a man, I’m 40” rant. In general, college football is a delightfully stupid sport we should all love and appreciate more along with fat man touchdowns. Side note: I write for SB Nation’s OSU site, Cowboys Ride For Free.
One side of my family is Sicilian so we pull for Italy in the World Cup and other international competitions. When European club matches started being more available online, I decided to follow Juventus because the majority of Italy’s team plays for them. Arsenal was the choice for the Premier League because most people were picking the other North London club when NBC Sports started televising the league.
I like MMA because it’s a one-on-one sport with former college and senior-level international wrestlers in it, and the athletes show personality. The tennis Grand Slam tournaments are a must-watch for me. After watching the Neflix series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” and some past races, I’m invested in following Formula 1. Aussie Rules Football is the wildest sport I’ve ever seen, and you should support Collingwood because they have former OSU walk-on hoops player Mason Cox. Professional wrestling entertains me at times, and other times it doesn’t.
MLB: White Sox
I’m not 100 percent sure why I chose the Sox over the Cubs. It could be that I followed my dad’s fandom (Sox) instead of my mom’s (Cubs) as a sports-loving kid. It could be I was enamored by Frank Thomas. It could be Sox games were an annual family tradition because they were something my large family (I’m one of five boys) could do easier than a jaunt to Wrigleyville. Or, maybe, I enjoy telling people I’m related to Bill Melton (I’m not).
And 2005, happened, dammit.
Growing up in the Chicago area in the 90s meant I was required to be a Bulls fan. That faded as my hockey fandom emerged because of how much overlap there is in the league’s schedules. But I’ve been working my way back into basketball and into the Bulls. I hope their regime change gives me even more reasons to watch soon.
Football was my first sports love, actually, as the sport I played through high school and into college. Because of that, my Bears fandom has the deepest roots in my life. The ‘05-06 Bears produced one of the most enjoyable falls of my life (and helped relieve the Blackhawks-induced sports depression I was living through at the time). It’s probably related to the minimal number of games the NFL has, but I always schedule my life around those Sundays in the fall when I have three hours to dedicate to a Bears game. That time remains sacred.
NCAA: Notre Dame
I grew up Catholic within a one-hour drive from South Bend. I had no choice. Fun fact: at my Catholic grade school, the principal (who was a nun) had some affiliation with Notre Dame, while many of the teachers had education degrees from Purdue. So, on the Friday before the annual Purdue-Notre Dame game, students were allowed to skip their usual uniforms as long as they wore some Purdue or Notre Dame gear.
When the EPL came to NBC Sports in the prior decade, I decided it was time to pick a team. I watched an hour-long show that introduced each of the teams and, when they got to Southampton, they played audio of the crowd singing “When the Saints Go Marching In,” which immediately hooked me. They also play at St. Mary’s Stadium, which is the same name as my grade school. It felt like destiny.
I now realize I picked a team that serves as a crossroads — not a destination — for some of the sport’s top players: Gareth Bale, Virgil Van Dijk, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, virtually all of Liverpool’s current roster, etc.
MLB: White Sox
The 2005 team is my first championship memory, and my favorite player back then was Aaron Rowand. Now, as has been discussed a few times on the podcast, I’m bummed about not seeing the White Sox first potential playoff run in more than a decade, and my favorites on the team are Eloy Jimenez and Lucas Giolito.
NBA: Wherever Russell Westbrook’s playing (currently Rockets)
Playing “NBA 2K,” Westbrook quickly became my favorite point guard, and that’s the position I regard as the most important in the modern NBA. I think he’s the most athletic player in the sport perhaps ever and while he needs to get his shooting in a better place (I swear if he spent a summer with the best shooting coach he’d be one of the NBA’s premier talents), his on-court attitude has never been anything but impressive to me.
I became a Lions fan in 2014 because of their defense, and that Cowboys picked-up flag robbery simply sealed the deal (it was clear pass interference, I will not hear otherwise, and the Lions go on to at least beat the Packers that year). I had a long road to the Lions after leaving the Bears in 2007 (the quarterback situation was something I was quickly done with), including a long pit-stop in New England (yes, boo me, I revel in your hatred) because of Wes Welker. But after his retirement, I needed a team, and (weirdly, yes, I know) the Lions enraptured me.
NCAA: Texas (Hook Em)
I got my Master’s degree from the UT Austin and the college where I got my Bachelor’s (Emerson) is division three.
Soccer: Queen’s Park Rangers
I lived in London for six months while studying abroad and I wasn’t attracted to any of the Premier League teams in the city so I went more indie with my choice in the Championship. Loftus Road is still my favorite live sporting experience (UK chants > American chants).
I’m a massive WWE fan (and I say that because I have yet to pay for an AEW pay-per-view), where I was raised on Rey Mysterio, but now my favorites are Keith Lee and (heel) Seth Rollins, as well as Asuka and (should she ever return) Becky Lynch.