A cold wind pulses through the region.
It pulses down streets, up alleys, through television-clad bars. It throbs and flits, breezing some Chicagoans away like the puff of air that separates wheat from chaff in an ancient farm’s winnow.
It’s the winnow for Chicago. It’s the season where the wind blows residents away, clustering them in eddies around televisions and bars any given Sunday to stare en masse at that most sacred of taxpayer-subsidized franchise-based multi-billion-dollar corporate endeavors, football.
The Chicago Bears kicked off their season on Sunday, losing to the Houston Texans 23-14.
I don’t mind football, other than the conspiracy to hide concussions, the predatory practices of franchise owners and the national expectation that universities dedicate huge percentages of their endowments to provide the NFL its farm system for free.
I like Notre Dame. So… I’ve got that going for me. Go Irish.
The winnow comes from the snobbishness of the unsnobs, the commanders who believe themselves commanded. They are freedom and love and personal accomplishment. You’re the pedant pointing out that four out of every five Division I college football programs lose money and, oh yeah, the NFL is still giving people brain damage.
If McDonald’s or Fuddruckers or any other nationally franchised business tried to conceal brain injuries their workers systematically received on the job, you wouldn’t shop there, would you? Or if you did, you would feel guilty, backpedal, try to explain to your friends that it’s so convenient and you know it’s horrible but life is compromise, man.
But if the worker can get his name on a jersey for sale at your local sporting goods store, it’s not just OK to throw money the company’s way but you should love it like hell as well.
A lot of businesses have scandals. We still buy gas from BP after they poisoned the Gulf. We still love the World Cup even though FIFA makes NFL execs look like good little angels.
But somehow looking at this business as a business instead of a sacred and necessary piece of Americana, and holding team owners to the standards we would ask of a Curves for Women franchisee in an El Paso strip mall, well that just makes you a jerk.
Also, Colin Kaepernick can sit down if he wants to, wearing a player’s jersey as a shirt is a super-creepy form of cosplay if you think about it and NFL games are like 40 percent truck commercials, 35 percent watching men dressed like the Hamburglar watching videos of the play they just called because an angry man in a polo shirt and headphones threw a clipboard and said they did it wrong.
Either way, my football ire isn’t about that, really. Football is keeping me from bars.
I’ve spent the summer working weekends, dreaming of the day I can again join my friends for long leisurely lunches catching up and watching a lingering game of baseball on the telly.
Now that day has come. And those long leisurely lunches will be surrounded by tables of screaming fat guys snuggled in the jerseys of their gridiron man-crushes.
Yes, I care about predatory business practices and concussions and why the hell universities supposedly dedicated to learning give teenagers brain damage for alumni donors’ amusement, but more of it than I want to admit is about finding a bar and grill where I can talk to my friends without screaming over the 28 flat screens showing hot cuts of a ref reviewing tape.
A cold wind has pulsed through the region. It’s blown away all that’s chaff and unwanted.
And for the next several months, that chaff is me.