Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Being a Lakers/Packers fan in Chicago

Two questions I get asked often, “How can you live in Chicago and like the Packers and the Lakers?”  I get asked these questions a lot, because I have a Lakers backpack and a Packers lunch bag. I stand out like a sore thumb when people see me with that combination.

First of all, I’ve never, for the life of me, understood why just because you are geographically located somewhere that means YOU HAVE to be a fan of that particular team.  After all, aren’t we FREE to choose who to root for, who to like, and what to do.  Do we have to confirm to something because we were born in that city?  I think it’s pretty simplistic and boring to root for a team only because you live there.  We are smarter than that. If that is the team you like and you live in that city, that’s cool with me and I have no issues with that, whatsoever.  I just have issues with people who want everyone to fall in line with a team because they live in Chicago, New York, or wherever.
Let’s start with the Green Bay Packers.  In the city of Chicago, the Green Bay Packers are seen as the enemy, thanks to their storied rivalary with the Chicago Bears.  The Bear fans hate the Packers, and Packer fans hate the Bears. So, how did I become a Green Bay Packers fan, you ask?

Growing up, my dad is about as a big of a Bear fan as you can imagine. When the game is on, nothing else matters to him. He makes a huge meal and will not take a bite out of his meal until the game starts. He still talks about the 1985 Bears and what a great team they were. So, because of this, growing up with my dad around the Bears, I’ve seen the Packers twice a year, because they are in the same division. 

The Bears, from the time I have been a little boy until now, have always, in my eyes, been a boring, bland, and uninteresting team. I’m not just saying this because I’m a Packers fan. It’s how I’ve always viewed them. Their offense has always been lifeless and dreary. They rely on defense, running the football.  Their games and their team are tough for me to watch. It’s not the style of football I enjoy, get behind.  It’s brutally boring to me. I understand it’s a different style of football and not every team is going to follow the same formula, but as a fan, I can’t support it.

Watching the Packers growing up, even when they had mediocre or bad teams, they were always entertaining, engaging, and enjoyable to view. The crowd was always excited, loud, and so into the game, even if they were 6-10 like in 2008. They put out an exciting brand of football, with an explosive offense and turnover producing defense. From Favre to Rodgers, the quarterback play has always been terrific.  They jump in the stands after a touchdown, play the song Bang on the Drum All Day and have such a rich and storied tradition. I used to be a wrestling fan and loved ECW for its fan interactive nature, and the Green Bay Packers reminded me of that. It’s a team by the fans for the fans.

As far as the Lakers go, as I’m sure everyone who reads this blog knows: I love movies. I love movies, TV, and anything to do with that type of media. Watching Basketball as a young fan, the Lakers captured my interest, attention right away. You look in the stands and you have a cast that rivals the films New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day. It’s a who’s who of Hollywood royalty, including, of course, Jack.

The Lakers are an event, and I love events, like big movies and big sports games.  When you watch a Laker game, it’s something special. They always have had legends like Kobe, Shaq, Magic Johnson, Kareem, and Jerry West.  They also have tradition which is always huge for me. I love a team that takes tradition seriously and respects that. I’ll never, ever forget their seven game series against the Boston Celtics in 2010. That is the best series and the most excited I’ve been for any team, more than when the Packers won the Super Bowl. It was a seven game series of emotion, pain, excitement, and at the end, joy. I own a box set that includes all seven games in their entirety and I often rewatch the games and smile. To me, that was the sweetest series ever. The Lakers beat their arch nemesis, the Boston Celtics, in seven games, after being down 13 points in the second half. It was a great comeback and as emotional as I’ve ever been during a series or a season. It was the only time a sport has ever made me cry. I cried tears of joy and happiness when it was all said and done.
When I wear a Packer t shirt or a Laker t shirt, it’s a statement. I’m representing the team and what they stand for.  When I wear a Laker shirt, I’m promoting the Hollywood life, which I hope to live someday: a life of glamour, glitz, and the good life.  It’s the Lakers, baby.  It’s fun, exciting, care free, and always a blast. It’s also basketball at its finest, played the right way by some of the best players of all time. When I wear a Packer shirt, I’m representing real football fans who care about their team, live and die with them, and support them all the time.

I’ve never had anything against the Bulls, by the way. I respect them, especially Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson, who also coached the Lakers. They just never tickled my fancy. As they say, not my cup of tea.

Right now, the Lakers and the Packers are both not playing, so it’s a hard time as a fan.  I could never get into hockey or baseball as hard as I tried. Baseball, for me, is too slow moving, too long of a season, and not enough drama. I know it’s America’s past time, and it’s nothing personal against the many baseball fans. Hockey, I can never see the puck, and it moves too quickly to comprehend, take in what’s happening and too low scoring.

Hope this blog helped you understand why I love my teams.

-Tony Farinella

1 comment:

  1. I agree totally! Why do you always have to be a fan of a team where you live? Personally, I love that you're a fan of the Packers and the Lakers because it makes you different and unique. You're not like one of the other thousands of fans who like the Bears or Bulls. You have totally converted me to a Lakers fan as well :) Packers, not so much yet, but then again I don't like football all that much to begin with.