A Super Chicago Sunday

4 February 2007 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

| Cliff Grammich |

Word on the street here in frigid northeastern Illinois is that there’s a football game being played in south Florida tonight of considerable local interest. (Just one bit of evidence: my choir director selected this as our postlude this morning, something I would not have done — and something, I confess, that I’m not sure I’ve ever sung with as little alcohol as transubstantiated wine provides.)

It’s hard to put a new spin on this game, but here’s some local ephemera that might interest O&M readers.

Local universities influence the traditions of the Bears in at least two ways. The University of Illinois, George Halas’s alma mater, provides the team’s orange and blue colors.

The team later appropriated two elements of University of Chicago tradition: the stylized ‘C’ that it added to its helmets in 1962, and the moniker “Monsters of the Midway,” once applied to the seven-time Big Ten champion Maroons.

The U. of Chicago also contributed to the traditions of another team. From Wikipedia (corrobarated here):

‘The team which has now become the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, who were originally the Racine Normals (named for the street on the South Side of Chicago where they played; the team eventually became the Chicago Cardinals), received their first uniforms as hand-me-downs from the University of Chicago. The faded maroon was fancied by the club’s president to be a “cardinal” red color, so the team adopted “Cardinals” as its nickname.’

As a Chicago alum, I find this interesting (probably more than I should) for several reasons. While the university has its own strong football traditions (exemplified by Stagg and Berwanger, among others), it has long since forsaken these, dropping big-time football in 1939 (though reinstituting the sport on a Division III level in 1969). It later tore down what was once one of the largest football stadiums in the country to build what is now one of the largest libraries in the country. And I’m nearly certain the biggest event on campus tonight will be the final performance of an annual folk music festival.

Not that I know for sure about how big the folk festival will be this evening. My wife and I often attend, but couldn’t find sitters for it this year. So now it’s time to pick up the pizza and get the chilling beer off the back porch . . .

Edit:  No history of the University of Chicago’s contributions to the NFL’s popularity is complete without mentioning Charles McNeil–the U of C-trained mathematician who invented the point spread.

Entry filed under: Ephemera, Former Guest Bloggers.

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