Bears, Steelers: Where are the bad guys?

On September 22 the Chicago Bears play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. As a former Pittsburgher and current Chicagoan I cheer for both teams. Since they are in different conferences that is rarely a problem. This week is one of those times when it is.

“Mama, where are the bad guys?”

At first I was confused by my son’s question during the week two Bears and Vikings game. Then he clarified.

“Where are the bad guys in the orange helmets?”


Young Pittsburgh Steelers Fan
Sure, he seems engaged here, but it will be years before he grasps the nuance of the game.

This is the first year that my son has started trying to understand football. The week one Bears and Bengals game was the first time he asked questions about what was going on. It is reasonable he would conclude that football always involves the Chicago Bears and some orange bad guys.

As much as I applaud the idea of permanently labeling the Bengals as bad guys, I explained that the “bad guys” change every week. (I didn’t mention until Monday that the Steelers were actually playing the orange bad guys that week.)

But where are the bad guys when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears, the two teams we consistently root for, play each other?

I need to stay loyal to my Pittsburgh Steelers, even though they haven’t given me much reason to cheer this season. Still, I can’t bring myself to label the Bears as bad guys.

For the kids, I’m glad the game will be on past their bedtimes. It would be confusing for them. Like going through four hours of an ugly divorce only to have everything back to normal the next week. Besides, the sports identity confusion in our house is already bad enough.

For a long time my son thought Cubs and Steelers were synonyms. He’s ask to wear a Cubs shirt. I’d pull out his Castro t-shirt only to be corrected, “No, the black one with the numbers” (his Hines Ward jersey). Or he’d want to wear a Steelers shirt, “No, the blue one with the bear on it.” Sigh.

My daughter is already able to differentiate team apparel, although she likes to wear it all at the same time. (This creates a clashing mess since her gear is in actual team colors not that pink bullshit.) She does, however, refer to football as “baseball,” which is wrong.

The Chicago Bears play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football this week. What if my son asks who the Bears and Steelers are playing this week? Who should I say to root for? Who should I say to root against?

“Mama, where are the bad guys?”

Baltimore, children. Always Baltimore.

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