By S.C. Zuba
Sometimes passion breeds irrational behavior.
When Jay Cutler exited the Bears’ NFC championship game against the Packers, fans were irrational.
Irrational. It’s the type of behavior you just can’t explain.
Fans, media personalities and players around the league questioned the toughness of the Bears’ signal-caller. I was even skeptical. How could Cutler not muster up the strength to finish the second half in the most important game he’s ever played in?
He had been beaten so badly by that point in the season, why would he “quit” when it mattered most?
The answer? He was injured. There is a difference between playing hurt and playing injured. Any football coach will tell you they want their players to play when they are hurt. When they are injured, however, it’s a much different story.
Cutler had torn his MCL. That’s a big deal. That’s not just a muscle strain or a blood blister. That is an injury.
What Cutler endured during the next week was just wrong. I’m just as guilty as the next irrational fan. I think the problem here is level of passion that comes with Chicago sports and the fan’s inability to express that passion in the correct way.
How quickly we forget that athletes are people, too.
Chicago sports fans are some of the best, most passionate fans in the world—ask any athlete who’s ever played in the city, and they’ll tell you.
When LeBron James was deciding where to take his talents, White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen said:“Win a championship in Chicago and see how good that feels.”
Sometimes, however, that passion leads to irrational behavior.
A few years back, there was a story of a Cubs fan who got into a fight with a Sox fan at a little girl’s birthday party. The fight caused the Sox fan to lose his eye. What was this fight about? The Cubs-Sox rivalry.
It’s OK to be a passionate fan, but sometimes we have to think with our brains and not with our passion. As I said, Cutler didn’t deserve the abuse he took for sustaining an injury.
Was it awful to lose to the Packers in the biggest game the Bears had ever played in? Yes, it was terrible. But that doesn’t give fans the right to blame an innocent person.
It seems like whenever the Bears lose, or any other time for that matter, fans look for someone to blame. Sometimes there is a person deserving of the blame—in this case, that was not Cutler.
It’s OK to be a passionate fan. It’s not OK to be an irrational fan. Let’s remember that next time.
Share your thoughts with S.C. Zuba via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.