US-Sports in Chicago: At the Court of "His Airness"
Let’s clear up a possible misunderstanding right away – this is not a game! In the three major sports in the US, it’s not just about winning or losing. In baseball, basketball and football, athletes become national heroes, mortals become mythical beings. Millions and millions of Americans tune in when a deciding game is about to make history. In the US metropolis Chicago you can see some of the most legendary teams live.
The Chicago Cubs hold a dubious record - they are the only team in Major League Baseball to not win the championship in over 100 years. The last time they won the World Series was in 1908. Nevertheless, their home games are nearly always sold out, and their stadium enjoys cult status. Built in 1914, Wrigley Field, named after the chewing-gum magnate and former Cubs owner William Wrigley Jr., is one of the oldest stadiums in the league. It has even featured in several Hollywood movies: In the classic film The Blues Brothers, protagonist Elwood Blues registers his address as 1060 West Addison, thus tricking the police into searching for him at Wrigley Field.
Chicago Cubs: 1060 W. Addison, Wrigley Field. Tickets and stadium tours at http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com
Many non-Americans have trouble enjoying football due to its complexity. The official NFL rulebook contains 700 rules and exceptions, and up to seven referees ensure that the games are played accordingly. Nevertheless, this tactical and highly physical game is the USA’s absolute favorite sport. The Super Bowl, as the championship game is called, is watched live by around 100 million people. Chicago’s football team, the Bears, last qualified for the Super Bowl in 2006. Their stadium, New Soldier Field, is right on the banks of Lake Michigan.
Chicago Bears: 1410 S. Museum Campus Dr., Soldier Field. Tickets at www.chicagobears.com
The Chicago Bulls did what no other team has done: In the 1990s they won a “three-peat” (three championship titles in a row) twice! – 1991-93 and 1996-98. With their legendary superstar Michael "His Airness" Jordan, they dominated the National Basketball Association – and were hailed by fans all over the world. Of the three classical US sports, basketball is the one with the best "street cred" – streetball is popular among young people and adults alike. It can be played on small courts with just one basket – in suburban driveways or in the middle of downtown Chicago.
Chicago Bulls: 1901 W. Madison St., United Center. Tickets at www.nba.com/bulls
Seen enough? If all these spectator sports have left you raring to go yourself, why not sign up for the city’s famous marathon? About 36,000 men and women crossed the finishing line last year, making the Chicago Marathon one of the biggest of its kind in the world. Runners here often clock up record times thanks to the particularly flat course, but with a time limit of six and a half hours, the marathon is still suitable for the less ambitious amateur runner. And for sports fans who prefer to stick to the sidelines, the marathon offers a unique – and free – spectacle right in the middle of the city.
Bank of America Chicago Marathon: October 7, 2012, www.chicagomarathon.com
Photos: Corbis (4), McLain/laif