A weird thing happened the other day — I found myself actively caring about what was going on with the Chicago Bears….in the preseason!
Now if I had to take an official stance, I would say I’m a Redskins fan.
I grew up in southwest Virginia, loved me some Gary Clark (Pulaski County grad), and have great memories of winning $1 off my dad during the ’92 Super Bowl.
That’s my official position. So how did this Bears thing happen?
Well, I’ve got a theory.
I’m not a Bears fan, but what I’ve figured out is that I’m a fan of Bears fan.
You see over the years I’ve had a few excellent friends who were passionate about Chicago. They loved themselves some Ditka. They hated themselves some Brett Farve (though in a quiet moment would admit they’d take him on their team in a heartbeat.) And I’m always slightly surprised none of their children carry the name Payton….yet.
Not only were they good people and fun to hang with, but they were also passionate and authentic when it came to their fandom. The type of fandom that’s contagious.
It’s the polar opposite of the bandwagoneer. You know, the kid who swapped his Cleveland No. 23 jersey for a Miami No. 6 during the first commercial break of “The Decision.” You know this kid. He’s got a Patriots t-shirt, a Yankees hat, and a Lakers hoodie all stashed away in his closet, just waiting for a convenient time to latch on to whoever becomes the frontrunner.
Bandwagoneers make me hate teams. Their fakeness makes me hope their teams lose. A lot.
Sorry, it’s just the honest truth. No one wants to be on the same side as a poser.
My experiences with Bears fan was a far cry from the bandwagoneer.
They were steady and they were dedicated. I knew where they were going to be on Sunday afternoon, I knew who they were going to cheer for, and I knew what would happen to me if I talked bad about Brian Urlacher around them.
Most importantly, I knew where they were going to stand, good or bad, when the game was over.
That type of authentic passion is contagious and somewhere along the line it must have gotten to me because since then I’ve found myself pulling for the Bears, a team I previously couldn’t have cared less about, to do well.
They never tried to convince me to do this. There was no “come to Jesus” Bears conversion meeting. It just happened, slowly and subtly, based on them and how I witnessed them interacting with their team.
Granted, we’re only talking about football here, but that type of influence seems powerful to me.
The idea that the impression you leave on another person could change that person’s perspective on the things you care about most.
The thought that how people see you interact with the things you love in life could change their feelings towards that very subject.
And maybe most of all, the concept that how people witness you live will stick with them and often speaks louder than any words you say.
I hope I represent the things I love well. I hope people see me as authentic and passionate. And I hope the impression I leave people with is one that plants positive seeds in their minds about those things.
Maybe even about some things more important than football. Maybe.