O-Issue 2014: Chicago Pro-Sports Primer

By Sarah Langs

I came to Chicago for the sports…didn’t you?

As a huge professional sports devotee, the city’s plethora of teams and venues seemed like a dream come true. You could say I’ve spent my last three years here learning sports—through sports, about sports, and channeling what I’ve learned into sports, too.

Even if you didn’t come for the same reason, make it a bucket list item for the next four years: Catch a game at each of the city’s professional sports venues.

Whether you’re a fan or not, whether you root for the Chicago team’s rival, or you don’t even know how baseball is scored, put it on your schedule. You’ll be glad you did.

We are lucky to have two baseball teams, one football team, one hockey team, and one basketball team just a little ways away on public transportation from our campus. Sporting events give us a chance to forget about homework and classes for a few hours, a great bonding experience with our companions, and a time to connect with this city we reside in for nine months of the year.

Head down to U.S. Cellular Field at the end of this week and get one last chance to see Paul Konerko (albeit on the bench) in a White Sox uniform. Or, head out to Sox/35th on the Red Line next spring to see the 2005 World Series champions celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their breaking an 88-year World Series curse.

If North Side baseball is more your thing, take the Red Line to Addison. Whether you go in the next few days or wait until next spring, you’ll be treated to Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks, and the future of Major League Baseball.

Baseball games are accessible from campus: Just take the #55 bus to the Red Line, or the #6 to the Red Line downtown if you’re going to Wrigley. Cheap tickets for either squad’s games can be found pretty easily online; plus the dorms often organize group outings with subsidized tickets.

As the weather cools off, it’ll start to feel more and more like football season. That means Bears games at Soldier Field. Football is a lot pricier than baseball, but any of the eight home games would be worth the experience. Situated south of the Loop, you can easily walk to Soldier Field from the first downtown stop on the #6 bus or the Roosevelt Red Line stop. Football is an incredible experience in person, and the indoors of Soldier Field is a sight to behold, especially covered in snow. Dress warmly.

For your hockey fix, I’m sure the 2013 Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks will do the trick. Chicago absolutely comes alive in support of the team when it enters a playoff run. Last spring, the dinosaur skeleton outside the Field Museum had on a dinosaur-sized Blackhawks jersey for the duration of their postseason run. Grab a friend, grab a sweater, and head to the Madhouse on Madison.

The United Center, as it’s also called, houses the NBA’s Bulls as well. There’s the Green Line to get there, or the #4 bus to the #20. Head out there to see a basketball game. Try to see Derrick Rose. I’ve been trying for three years running, so I wish you the best of luck.

Learn the lingo, too. The big names these days are the Blackhawks’ Toews and Kane, the Bulls’ Rose and Noah, the Bears’ Forte and Cutler, the Sox’s Sale, and the Cubs’ aforementioned Soler and Baez.

The great thing about sports in Chicago is that, despite the Billy Goat curse, these teams seem to always make it interesting. The Blackhawks weren’t able to defend their Stanley Cup last year, but they staved off elimination until overtime in Game Seven at home. It was electric. I was there…which brings me to my next point: Take advantage of any game you’re given. One of the things that makes sports captivating is that even the most harmless or small-storylined of games can become epic.

Outdoors game at Soldier Field with sub-zero temperatures projected? Go anyway. Game Seven between two teams you don’t care strongly about? Go anyway. Free tickets to Cubs/Phillies when it’s clear they’ll both be bottom feeders this season and rain is predicted? Go anyway; a pitcher might go three-for-four.

Chicago’s sporting field is wide, so do yourself a favor and be a sports fanatic. You don’t have to be a White Sox, Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls, or Bears fan. In fact, you can be the opposite. All you have to do is be willing to sit through three hours—an afternoon unlike any you’ll find on campus.