Archive for the 'The Sports Experience' Category

14
Mar
11

Chicago Sports Challenge: Da’ Bears

Below is Laura’s post on her first Bears game–check out the Chicago Sports Challenge here:

The Inaugural Bears Experience

Born in 1985 and having lived in Chicago for all of my 25 years, it’s about time that I attended my first Bears game. I know this post is a few months behind the ball as the Bears vs. Jets game that was my first Soldier Field experience was months ago but I still believe my experience and emotions concerning this important ‘first’ are still worth sharing.

Home of Da' bears

Gameday was cold and snowy, just as it should  be. But I didn’t really feel the cold the entire game. The atmosphere is electric, the fans, incredible. Being at the game really gives  you this sense that Chicagoans are a passionate, tough and resilient bunch (yes, some of us fit the super fan stereotype, I’ll even cop to enjoying an Italian sausage while at the game )– but we’re so much more. Being there made you feel like the players were actually playing for the city and watching Matt Forte score the first TD of the game, I felt oddly connected to him just by being in the stadium. One thing is for sure, actually being there intensifies everything, every  completed pass thrills and every hard hit chills. Actual scores, forget about it.

I loved being a part of the team for that afternoon and a part of the diehard fan base for life. I’ll always be happy and proud to be a Bears fan and yes, maybe frustrated. Bears fans are not kidding around with their love of the team and the city. Being a part of that for an afternoon was a memorable experience to be sure. And as always, makes me proud to be a part of Chicago.

02
Oct
10

Icing the Pens

As many of you know–Chicks Dig Sports Too pledged to take the Chicago Sports Challenge : where we immerse ourselves in Chicago sports culture. We have an unexpected post courtesy of Durkins–my neighborhood Steelers bar. After winning a raffle on Friday night, my high-school buddy Jess and I were whisked away (via party limo, no less)  to the Blackhawks game–and they just so happened to be playing my Pittsburgh Penguins (Crosby, Fleury and the whole gang  :-))

High School Buddies 🙂

This was my first time at the United Center for a sporting event. It’s true–there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Sitting in the 300’s, we had an excellent view of all the action on the ice (yes, even those two goals scored by MaryANN…gag me). It was also my first sporting event while I was in Chicago as a faithful member of the opposing team. I really had no idea what I was in store for.

Getting there right before the start of the game–I really enjoyed the pump-up video to get the fans going. Strangely enough, nothing screams hockey like the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song and a killer light show. Paired with the “tunnel-vision” camera of the Hawks walking to the ice and everyone was raring to go. One thing I don’t get–that I was glad to experience as its specific to Blackhawk culture–is the yelling, screaming and making noise during the national anthem. I just don’t understand it and find it fairly disrespectful-to the country and the singer–who actually was quite good. I know that incorporating fun things in the anthem is all the rage these days (“O!” for Syracuse, “Hail” for Michigan etc.) but I think just making noise is kind of weird. That being said–it definitely continues to pump everyone up for the game at hand–there’s absolutely NO LULL in excitement and support from the fans, from the moment you walk into the United Center to the moment you leave–and I can dig that.

Hawks Pre-Game

  I was impressed by the Chicago fans for a few reasons: the arena was packed by face/0ff. Even for a pre-season game, the support of the fans was tangible–with fans genuinely enthralled and paying attention to the game. Additionally, I thought–overall–the fans were pretty classy. Never toeing the line of acceptable obnoxious sports behavior–and as we all know the tendency gets greater when you are CRUSHING the opposition–  I was met with a variety of awesome comments–“We’ll see you in the Stanley Cup” being the one most popular.  Also, we were allowed the ability to cheer–often loudly–for our team, with little to no friction from home team fans. This is hard to find in the sporting world today (I’m looking at you, Philadelphia) so I appreciate the positive atmosphere.

311 Heaven

One thing I did notice, “The Song”, yes that one is NOT as much fun when it’s being played against your team (over and over). However, it was really cool to be in the UC and experience the goal celebration ritual that I’ve come so accustomed to through television.

Goal Celebration

One thing that I was disappointed in was the mass exodus of Blackhawks fans with 4:41 left in the third period. Yes, you were killing us 4-1, and yes, it’s a pre-season game. And yes you’re always going to have people everywhere  that miss the whole point of sports–that saving an extra 20 minutes in the parking lot is worth abandoning your team–but the mass exodus of people leaving was alarming. When MaryAnn put the nail even further in the coffin by scoring his second goal of the night-no one was there to cheer. That would have NEVER happened in Pittsburgh–in fact, it would have been over their dead body–even if they were losing by five.  And last night, when we were getting slaughtered, we stayed till the game was over and cheered like CRAZY when we finally got on the board, because you don’t leave your team behind–win or lose. Just an observation we Yinzers noticed last night–but I’m completely willing to give the fans another shot before passing final judgement. One thing’s for sure–the fans awareness of the game and enthusiasm for it drowns out Cubs fans–hands down. And let’s get serious–if they were playing anyone OTHER than the Pens, I would have been in my glory.

The game ended and we strolled back to our party limo (singing the Pittsburgh Polka, natch) and returned back to the comfy nook of Lincoln Park. While it’s always fun to go to sporting events, this experience was elevated to a different level of awesome as it was completely unexpected–and a great ending to a long week!

We are going to the White Sox game tonight–so look for a recap tomorrow 🙂

Was anyone else at the game last night? What is your favorite Blackhawks ritual? and, most importantly, HOW THE HELL CAN YOU ALL OPENLY EMBRACE MARYANN HOSSA??? 😉

Talk to us people,

Sam

20
Sep
10

Tailgating: What’s College Without It?

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Columbus, OH for business.  Much like Sam, my favorite time during my job is when my two favorite things, sports and public relations combine. This “business” just happened to center around The Ohio State vs. Miami football game, a game that was being hailed throughout the previous week as THE game to watch. Did it turn out to be a great game? Not really. Unless a great game to you is watching one team dominate the other in all three arenas – offense, defense and special teams. And, I suppose if you’re an Ohio State fan, this is the type of game you like to watch.

Buckeye Stadium

The real impact made from my trip to campus had more to do with pre-game traditions. I went to a very small school and while I received a wonderful education, met solid people, developed solid friendships and good memories – I never tailgated. Can you believe it? I truly believe there is something missing from your college experience when you don’t. Maybe that is why I love college football so much now, in my mid-twenties. The tailgaters at The Ohio State seem to know how to do it right. Everyone from age 0-60 was dressed in red and white. They brought grills, boom boxes, games, magazines, padded chairs, you name it. And the best part– they offer every passerby to share in their tailgate. They try and welcome strangers in as family and I was offered several beers while perusing the various set ups. The air was slightly chilled that day, perfect for football and comradery. The spirit in the air and people yelling O-H-I-O as they walked into the stadium for kick off gave me goose bumps. And while I didn’t get to see the game, I was happy to be on campus to just get that special Big Ten tailgate feeling.

Tailgating at OSU

What is your best tailgating memory? Was your school big on it? Is it college football WITHOUT the tailgating?

Talk to us, we’d love to hear!

–Laura

06
Sep
10

Take Me Out to the Rooftop

Back in July, we pledged to take the Chicago Challenge, in which we completely immerse ourselves in Chicago sporting culture by attending as many professional and collegiate events as possible within the next year. 

Well, we are proud to say that we have officially begun to cross events off our Chicago bucket list. Yesterday, I went to see the New York Mets take on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. And yes, while I have been to a plethora of Cubs games during my 18 month stint in Chicago, this is the first time that I experienced the legendary rooftop experience. 

Ivy League Baseball Club

 Having bought the tickets from Groupon two months ago, my roomie Sam and I were giddy with anticipation. We arrived early, as there are actually a limited amount of seats available outside. (Sam took a quick detour and won a free bucket of Uncle Fabyan’s popcorn).  

Roomies in line for the game! 🙂

 The doors opened about an hour before the game. The cost of the ticket included all you can eat and drink until a half hour after the game. We were impressed by the selection of food: hot dogs, italian beef, hamburgers, chicken, potato salad, pasta salad, ice cream sundae bar, cappuccino bar, as well as the variety of  beverages to choose from. It pretty much is the best deal ever, especially when you get it through Groupon. 

Italian Beef and Pasta Salad

 It was absolutely awesome to take in the game and bask in the sun on the rooftop. Although, we did find it harder to focus on the game, as there was so much to take in from the eagle-eye view. 

In true Cubs fashion, we got absolutely embarrassed and gave up 21 hits for 18-5 loss. But , I suppose it wouldn’t be immersing myself in the Chicago sports experience if the Cubs were winning, or even competitive…right? The fact that Geovany Soto hit a home-run was good enough for me.   

Beautiful Day for a Gut-Wrenching Loss

 So, one down 15 to go in the Chicago Sports challenge … if the rest of the events prove half as fun as yesterday, we’re in for an exciting year 🙂

 As always, leave us your comments! We love to know what you think!

 –Sam

21
Mar
10

What’s Your Sports Dream?

The Sports Dream. What every fan lives for. Even a casual fan. There is nothing like when your team wins his or her respective championship. This post was inspired by Northern Iowa win over Kansas this past weekend in the NCAA tournament. What a high for every fan, alum and watcher of that game.  In my young, almost 24-year-old life, I have been blessed to see MANY of my sports dreams come true. So much in fact, that I only have one MAJOR one left on my list (and a midsized one) It’s a pretty difficult one though. Almost impossible. So here is a run down of my achieved and hopeful sports dreams. Please make sure to hit the comments with yours!

Steelers win Superbowl XL and Superbowl XLIII

I’ve been able to see my Steelers (who are my FAVORITE team out of all my teams) win not one but TWO Superbowls. I bawled my eyes out both times. Superbowl XL I road-tripped to Detroit with five of my sorority sisters. Jerome Bettis wins in his hometown and retires. Amazing. Superbowl XLIII I blew off graduate classes to be in Pittsburgh at Carson City Saloon at 10am. Steelers win and South Side in Pittsburgh was shut down, the celebrations in the street were amazing. Everyone hugging and crying. Pittsburgh fans are the best in the world. Below are two videos: The bar singing ‘Pittsburgh’s going to the SuperBowl’ before kick-off. The bar was at maximum capacity and no one could even move! And the street celebration after.

Pittsburgh Penguins Win 2009 Stanley Cup

Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley, Bring me the Brandy! This win was SO awesome. We avenged our loss to the Red Wings in 2008, we did it without Hossa, who left for ” a better chance to win” and this was the city of Pittsburgh’s second major sports championship in four months! I watched the game in Chicago and loved every minute!

2009 Stanley Cup Champs!

Eat it, Hossa

Syracuse wins 2003 National Basketball Championship/ 2004, 2008-2009 Lacrosse Men’s Championship

Few people know that, even though I attended Syracuse for grad school, I’ve been an Orange fan all my life. It’s true! My good friend Eric (@eric_hughes) and I tell this story all the time. When I was a senior in high school in ’04, he was a junior. We had AP Statistics together and as we giggled, made fun of our teacher and played cards during class, I told him “I’m going to PSU for undergrad, but I’m going to SU for grad school, and we’ll rebecome best friends” (Eric was gunning from Syracuse for the start!) And..what do you know, five years later we met at Faegan’s on Marshall Street to re-connect and become bff’s.

Eric and I, February 2009

I tell this story because, I’ve always appreciate Syracuse and its wins. So seeing ‘Melo (and McNamera!) take them to the National Championship in ’03 was amazing! Although I’d probably appreciate a ’10 one even more being an alum now! Also, the men’s lacrosse program works so hard. I interned in athletic communications at Syracuse last spring semester, and to watch the men’s lacrosse season unfold was amazing. Those boys work so hard and, I’m proud to say are back-to-back champions (and 11 overall!) It was awesome to see it done while I was there. (and they just beat John’s Hopkins yesterday!)

'Melo in '03

I’ve been blessed to see a lot of other awesome sporting things happen: Women’s Softball being included in the Olympics, UCLA winning back-to-back softball championships in the mid 2000’s, Michael Phelps winning EIGHT Gold Medals in one Olympics, Hasim Rahman knocking out Lennox Lewis etc. etc. the list goes on.

So what do I need to see happen? TWO major things:

Penn State Nittany Lions Win a National Championship

Last time they’ve won, was 1986…two months before I was born. Womp Womp.

I want JoePa to be my Grandpa ❤

Chicago Cubs Win a World Series

I know what you’re saying. I know it’s been over 100 years. But damn it, I’ve been a fan for 14 years and I’m not giving up hope. I now live two el stops away from Wrigley Field and I can’t believe it. It takes my breath away every time I go to a game, or get a drink in Wrigley Field. I LOVE THE CUBS. and I WILL see a World Series. Note though: When I do. I will never watch another baseball game…EVER AGAIN. People have lived their entire lives and died and not seen the Cubs win. When I see it, I’m going out on top. That’s it for me. So as much as it would suck to give up baseball, it’d be worth it! Let’s Go Cubs. 2010 is our year! 🙂

1908 Cubs ... the last winning team!

What are YOUR sports moments? What do you remember? What do you HAVE to see happen before you die? What’s your fondest memory? Talk to me people, I’d LOVE to hear!

03
Feb
10

What Is The Best Sports Theme of All Time?

The sports theme song. An overlooked art. I sit firmly in the camp that a theme song for programming sets the tone for the upcoming contest. So, in the spirit of the Super Bowl, NBA All Star announcements, Baseball Litigations (I’m looking at you Lincecum), the Winter Olympics and every other February sporting event, I’ve decided to dissect a little talked about area of sports: The Theme. I always think it’s awesome when someone’s cell phone goes off and it’s a sports theme. You can tell a lot about a person by what theme they choose. I have my favorite theme. There is NO argument that this is THE best theme in sports. I have the full length version on my Ipod. I get excited when I hear it on TV. It is THE quintessential sports theme.  (look for it at the bottom of this post!) But I would like to briefly dissect some of the best and worst sports themes that really get you going for The Big Game. Note: This is NOT a stadium theme countdown.

Good: NFL ON FOX

I will admit, it was close race between the NFL on Fox and the NFL on Fox. I chose this one because the drum beats in contrasts with the horns at the beginning really get you ready to go. The song really embodies the football sport. It’s a battle theme, with a great amount of energy. The NFL on CBS is too lackadaisical.

BAD: NBA ON TNT

This theme song sounds like a soundtrack in one of the racing levels in the SNES game F-Zero. Just saying.

GOOD: The Olympics

This theme song EMBODIES the olympics. It’s regal and worldly. It sets the tone for the serious and important nature of the contests. It’s strong and at times it’s beautiful and soft.  It is a sports theme masterpiece. It really, truly is.

BAD: NFL ON NBC

I just find this one EXTREMELY irritating. It’s an Olympic wanna be.

Good: NHL ON Versus

This kicks the SNOT out of the NHL on NBC theme. It’s a little slow to start but I think it meshes perfectly with the sport. (Apparently, from this post, NBC needs to invest in some better theme musicians and composers…what a job that would be!)

BAD: NFL ON ESPN

This one isn’t as bad as the others, but compared to the other great NFL intro’s this one needs some work:

Before we get to the BEST THEME OF ALL TIME. I have two honorable mentions, and I know I’m gonna get flack for one of them. The first honorable mention is the MLB on Fox. This theme song is AWESOME. Definitely pumps you up and gets you ready to go.

The next is the Faith Hill intro to Sunday Night Football on NBC. I know what you’re saying … GAG ME. It’s not Hank Williams Jr.’s ‘Monday Night Football’ theme, but it’s catchy. Yes, I know that they are using the hook to ‘I hate myself for loving you’ by Joan Jett. Yes, I know the country diva probably knows squat about football. But she’s the ONLY female act in this town and I think she does a pretty good job making the SNF game look like a prime time event. Oh, and, if you say it’s not catchy, then you’re a liar and she looks gorgeous while doing it.

So what is the best Sports Theme of all time? Have you figured it out? It really is  a NO BRAINER. Seriously, there is no way to argue with this one.

The best theme of all time is….

THE NBA ON NBC! (May it rest in peace!)

The sports world lost a lot when the NBA moved from NBC, mostly because this song went kaput. It has resurrected a little in recent years with comeback at the 2008 Olympics and its hook used intermittently on the NBA on ABC theme. This is the BEST sports song. I can’t even tell you why. You just have to listen to it. I’ve provided the clip as well as the live version performed by John Tesh. Yes, THAT John Tesh. (The funniest part of the whole video is watching John Tesh ROCK OUT as he plays this…like he’s in AC/DC) The amount of musicians needed to carry out this live performance is unbelievable. There are a lot of thinks to make fun of John Tesh for but all of them negate after finding out that he is responsible for penning the best sports theme of all time, aptly titled “Round Ball Rock,” I think we need to let it all slide.

Official Clip

Live…check out the guitar/violin battle half way through

What do you guys think? Do you agree with the NBA on NBC? Did I leave any off the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Talk to me people 🙂

–Sam

04
Jan
10

New Year’s Hangover

Three days into ’10 and my head is about to explode with everything that has been going on in the past couple days with sports. Since I have a tendency to be longwinded bear with me folks.

NFL/Pittsburgh Steelers

I’d like to start by saying that I’m really bummed about the Steelers not making the playoffs. Like REALLY bummed. The post season isn’t the post season without my boys. It seems like this is the first time I can remember them not being in the playoffs–and then I’m reminded that this exact same thing happened a few years ago. The Steelers followed up their 2006 Superbowl Champion season by missing the playoffs. I’m ok with this pattern, if and only if they continue it and I can look forward to a Championship in 2012. This Pittsburgh Steeler team is such a disappointment. Not because they started the season 6-2, not because they lost 5 games in a row, not because we only won 2 division games this year. (That’s right…TWO). They are a disappointment to me because I did not see much heart from them all season long. Or at least until it was too late. With only 16 games in a season, a football team has to go out on the field and bring a solid effort. We simply did not do that in many games this year. I keep flashing back to the Steelers/Browns game where the Steelers decided they didn’t want to play. Because it was too cold. Of course they didn’t actually say this but their actions did. I didn’t see any hustle, I saw dropped passes from Ward (who had an unusually subpar season) and don’t even get me started on the defense. Our defense struggled all year without our leader Troy Polamalu (damn Madden curse) and they played uninspired. Add in the fact that there was internal bickering between Roethlisberger and Ward, Jeff Reed’s drunken shenanigans and the lack of leadership on the team and the season was abysmal.

See, I’m upset with you Pittsburgh. I love you, but I’m really freaking upset with you. YOUR FANS DESERVE BETTER THAN THAT. We are with you and we love you, whether you win or lose…there are no fair weather fans in the steel city, but we deserved better than the performance you gave us this season. I can take it if you try your hearts out and get beat, but what I can’t take is a lack of effort overall…and there was a slump this season where you didn’t care and damn it, we ALWAYS care. We ALWAYS care how you’re doing. You’re “the town of Pittsburgh’s heart and soul” and I just feel like you forgot that somewhere along the way this year.

So, we love, we forgive you and we’re freaking excited for you to address these problems and kick some ass next year boys. On the upside…there were some INCREDIBLE highlights to the Pittsburgh Steeler season including: Roethlisberger throwing over 4,000 yards this season and 503 yards in a single game, the emergence of Mike Wallace (Holla!) Who is going to be AWESOME for us, Rashard Mendenhall finally growing into his own and mowing down the competition like he was still at Illinois and, let us not forget, Dennis Dixon getting his moment to shine in prime time. So we love you Pittsburgh, and a 9-7 record isn’t horrible…it’s just not good enough to get you into the playoffs. I’m already ANXIOUSLY awaiting next season…is it August yet?! 😉

Syracuse Orange

Ok. Syracuse. I should have known. The BIG EAST is the toughest collegiate basketball division and it is pretty much impossible to go undefeated. And Pitt is always solid, I said in a previous post that, although they had lost two games, there was no reason to doubt their toughness. We are not in any danger having lost by ten points. at home. Seriously, because when you make the NCAA tournament, you won’t be playing at home anyway (even though the Carrier Dome is a site for the playoffs!) What I’m alarmed about though, my dear boys, is ability for the team to unravel fairly quickly. Syracuse, you were 1-for-13 on three pointers. ONE FOR THIRTEEN. That says to me two things: Rautins was off (hate it when that happens!) and you’re taking stupid shots. 1 for 13 is maybe 2%?! Pitt’s always a freaking good contender, and so what if we drop to No. 10 when the new rankings come out.  As of right now, you’re 13-1. The season is really long and no one goes undefeated. Let’s just work on playing ‘HORSE’ in your off-time with three point shots. *Side note, the SU Women’s basketball team was also handed their first defeat on Saturday at the hands of Georgetown (Blech!) The women are 12-1, the best start in school history. I’m sure they’ll bounce back in no time.

BCS Bowls

As we all know by now, I’m proving to be pretty awful at picking these BCS bowls. I currently stand at 1-3 (if you count the OSU/Ole Miss game where I flipped a coin) As I mentioned in my previous post, I apologized to my lions for thinking they would succumb to the SEC. But here is what I learned from a few of the other games.

Rose Bowl:

Terrell Pryor, as much as I HATE to admit it, really seems like he’s a force to be reckoned with. and I really hate to admit it.

Sugar Bowl:

Florida has no class to be running up the score like that. It’s almost like they forgot that a few weeks ago, they were the center of a ridiculously embarrassing lopsided win. One that stopped them from the national championship. Good Riddance Tebow. The next time I’ll see you cry is on draft day (Props to @rockatalic for coining that)

Outback Bowl:

Auburn has really gotten bad over the past couple years and Northwestern has a TON of heart and throws a butt-load of interceptions.

Alamo Bowl:

Maybe Leach ISN’T the secret ingredient to keep the Red-Raiders winning. Then again, they were playing against Michigan State.

Liberty Bowl:

East Carolina’s kicker should drop out of school. Seriously. With that many missed kicks, the school should go the ‘Glee’ route and hire the gay show-choir kid to be the kicker on the team so his dad doesn’t catch on to the fact that he’s gay. I feel bad for the kid, honestly, but he should probably get out of dodge. The south is CRAZY about football. (and not that Arkansas’ kicker was much better….but didn’t blow the game TWICE)

What was your favorite sporting event of the weekend? Did you enjoy this gluttony of 24/7 sports the past couple days? Talk to me people 🙂 And check back tomorrow for my NFL match-ups/playoffs.

–Sam




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