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The Guilty Pleasures of a Mediocre Team

For most of the last decade, Chicago's oddball football team, the Bears, has been a franchise adrift. We've shuffled through players, coaches, and management like a politician at a party, shaking hands with anyone and everyone, hoping that some might work out.
The Guilty Pleasures of a Mediocre Team

I confess, I am a Chicago sports fan. There's millions of us, so I can't say I'm a rare breed, exactly, but I wonder how many of my fellow Chicagoans would share my perspective here:

Being in the muddy middle makes for a good time.

For most of the last decade, Chicago's oddball football team, the Bears, has been a franchise adrift. We've shuffled through players, coaches, and management like a politician at a party, shaking hands with anyone and everyone, hoping that some might work out.

The result? A menagerie of mediocrity. A couple of playoff appearances, most ended without much of a spark, and yet I'm not ashamed to say it's been a good time.

Sure, the pre-season polls regularly have the Bears running towards the middle or bottom of the pack, and by the end of the year, that tends to be where we wind up. We don't have the all-star Quarterback leading our team to victory, nor do we have a group with such talent as to prompt one article after another pumping our accolades and expectations.

Instead, the Bears float through the miasma, taking to each game with the even-handed expectation of a likely loss, but with a win on the horizon. Because the Bears are rarely, completely terrible. A few times a season, yes, my beloved Monsters of the Midway are liable to turn in a performance that leaves the announcers befuddled and fans enraged. Yet, the very next week, these misfits will play a top ranked team to a tight conclusion, perhaps even a stirring victory.

This season, for example, the Bears opened with a strong 5-1 record, blasting through one close victory after another in ridiculous fashion. They then proceeded to lose the next six, many also very close, before closing out the season in a strange rally against the league's basement to sneak, thanks to another team's loss, into the playoffs at 8-8.

Highs, lows, and an inexplicable lucky break at the end? How very Bears.

If you read the title, you might be wondering where the good part of this comes in. I say it's evident in the record, in the low expectations. Every game, I can waltz in hoping for a win while expecting a loss. My hopes aren't crushed because, really, they're not all that firm in the first place. A victory brings delight, a loss brings a shrug, rather than the world-whirling dizziness that comes when sky-high dreams get slammed back to earth.

So on those Sundays when so many watch the teams parade up and down the field, I can join them, pulling for my Bears, secure in the knowledge that they have a chance, and that's both all, and enough.