Rooting Interest

I’m going to do what no Chicago sports fan should ever do—the great majority of us seem not to abide by this wisdom—and say I’m really hoping they win tomorrow. Beyond matters of vicarious athletic attainment and hometown pride, I hope they prevail for aesthetic reasons. In an anthem vs. anthem matchup, Chicago’s “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” must triumph over Green Bay’s polka-flavored, raccoon coat-evoking slop, “Go! You Packers! Go!” I submit lyrics and clips in support of my position, starting with “Bear Down”

Bear down, Chicago Bears,
make every play clear the way to victory.
Bear down, Chicago Bears,
Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.

We’ll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T formation.

Bear down, Chicago Bears,
And let them know why you’re wearing the crown.
You’re the pride and joy of Illinois,
Chicago Bears, bear down!

And here’s a representative performance of “Bear Down” :

Now, here’s the Green Bay hymn:

Hail, hail the gang’s all here to yell for you,
And keep you going in your winning ways,
Hail, hail the gang’s all here to tell you too,
That win or lose, we’ll always sing your praises Packers;
Go, you Packers, go and get ’em,
Go, you fighting fools upset ’em,
Smash their line with all your might,
A touchdown, Packers, Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight!
On, you Green and Gold, to glory,
Win this game the same old story,
Fight, you Packers,
Fight, and bring the bacon home to Old Green Bay.

And here’s a specimen rendition of the above:

Today’s Top Question

BearsTwo questions, actually: What’s the origin of the Chicago Bears’ nickname, “The Monsters of the Midway,” and how did it come to be applied to the Bears?

Part One is easy. When Kate asked me a couple weeks ago, I knew it had something to do with the Midway Plaisance on Chicago’s South Side, but was fuzzy on why that might apply to the Bears, who played in Wrigley Field (on the North Side) through 1970.. That Midway began as a park, was the center for carnival-type attractions during the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, and ran adjacent to the University of Chicago. And in fact, the original Monsters of the Midway were the U. of C.’s football teams under coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. But the university, once a gridiron powerhouse, gave up football in 1939. That coincided with a golden age of Bears football. After the U. of C. abolished football to better focus on the serious business of education and splitting the atom, the Bears became known as the Monsters of the Midway (and began using the stylized letter “C” that the university had adopted as its helmet emblem).

OK so far. But all the accounts I’ve come across fail to explain just how the Bears began using what had been a college nickname. Invariably, references say the Bears “acquired” the name or that it “was applied” to them. A scholarly study of the University of Chicago football, “Stagg’s University: The Rise, Decline, and Fall of Big-Time Football at Chicago,” says the Bears “appropriated” the name.

Something’s left out here. Either George Halas or someone else with the team came up with the idea to grab the University of Chicago nickname (which was long out of date, by the way; my dad likes to recall how in the late ’30s, some locals wanted to set up a contest between the Maroons and the Austin High School, a juggernaut on the city’s West Side), or–my theory–it caught on after some sportswriter or headline writer began using it.

More research to come on this pressing question.

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