I’ve bought my ticket, and I’m hopping aboard the bus...the 2009 fair-weather bus.
Chicago’s Madison Street has served as the dividing line between North and South for over 100 years, but will now serve as the city’s sports epicenter.
For the first time in 12 years, both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls will make playoff appearances in their respective leagues, and turn the United Center into the place to be in the Windy City.
Normally, April marks a time when the city splits up into traditional North-South factions to welcome back America’s pastime from its hibernation, but this year, it will also unite everyone who calls Chicago and the surrounding area "home".
The die-hard fans that have watched every game this season and cheered their loudest for Bulls' rookie Derrick Rose and Blackhawks' captain Jonathan Toews are ready for the post season, but they are not alone.
Those who pronounce the last name of the Blackhawks' captain the same way as the ten little digits you will find on your feet...they've caught the playoff fever, too.
Yes, those band- wagoners will be out in full force and will grow in numbers each day, until our boys come home with (or without) championship hardware.
The diehards will say things like, "We knew we’d be here" and "I’ve waited for this forever."
I can’t say that, and I won’t lie. However, I am not alone, but I'm boarding the train for this trip to the post-season.
I’ve had my Bulls' fix in the past, growing up during the Jordan Dynasty. I saw six trophies make their journey to Grant Park...Two words..."Da Bulls".
I’ve heard the stories of Roenick, Chelios and Belfour, and the success they had in the 90’s, back before I really drew interest in hockey, but I was well aware of who Bob Probert was—and he was the man!
My knowledge of Chicago winter sports could possibly be considered dated and stale to say the least. I also was born a Chicago White Sox fan, in the North suburbs, smack dab in the middle of Cub territory.
When it came time for the Sox to rise to the top, I too scoffed at those "Chicago Fans."
Don’t know who they are? The ones who wore the newly purchased cap, yet didn’t care about baseball between April and August.
These are the very same people who spent the summer of 2005 chugging Budweiser and enjoying their unlimited anytime minutes from the comfort of the Friendly Confines, and those who pledged no allegiance to a baseball team prior to that season.
When it was all done, with World Series trophy in hand and the lyrics to "Don’t Stop Believin’" burned into my brain forever, I realized it brought people together.
We won, and I didn't care who I high-fived. If they didn't leave me hanging, they earned a new friend.
That’s the root of sport in our culture...the ability to take people from various walks of life and give them a newfound commonness.
This is an excellent opportunity for two sports franchises to vastly increase their fan base, and it’s up to the die-hards to welcome the newbies with open arms, cold beers and loud cheers...not jeers.
One final note to those who may take in their first Hawks game this post season—it's okay to scream, clap, hoot and holler during the National Anthem.
That's what they do...Welcome to Tradition.