By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Feels pretty good, doesn't it?
This is the quiet time, the simple satisfaction of having invested emotion in a big-league, professional sports franchise that has won the title. The raucous celebration of last night has ebbed, thunderstorms across the area are acting as natural street-sweepers to clean up messes left by the kids in Wrigleyville, and raspy-voiced Blackhawks are still doing bleary interviews.
The dumbest people among us are clogging local sporting-goods stores looking for cheaply-made hats and shirts to validate their connection to victory, while the rest are content to revel in the kind of contentedness that comes with waking up knowing your team was the successful one.
Take note of this fleeting emotional oasis, appreciate it, and understand that this – right now -- is the real payoff.
It will evaporate by the time the organized civic celebrations ensue, swallowed up in a whirl of TV live-shots, tribute songs, double-decker buses and choppers overhead. Commemorative newspaper sections, hastily-prepared glossy magazines and video retrospectives will grab for your disposable income, effectively making you picture the look on your kid's face when you snag one in the checkout line on the way home from work.
Nothing replaces or approximates this -- the unshared time when the feeling is all yours, not diffused over block after block of red sweaters, not beamed to every last outpost, not yet entirely commoditized, packaged and sold.
We set the bar higher as fans and observers because of how special these hours become.
Those who settle for less than titles and claim to be perfectly happy with a "good" year of regular-season winning or a mere playoff appearance will never connect with the perfect completeness of one's team finishing off a run to an ultimate prize. Such failed seasons have to be acknowledged for championships to retain their significance.
There will be plenty of time for more parties, as the perfunctory rituals are performed. The trophy will tour in a spray of cheap sparkling wine, its quirky journey documented from the Canadian plains to the fjords. A banner is being produced as we speak, to be unfurled next season just before it all begins anew.
Don't let this brief time pass without really savoring it and banking it away somewhere. It's far more important than whatever plastic baubles that will soon be gathering dust or clothing that will soon fade, and be relegated unwittingly over time to the back of a drawer.
Right now. This is the point of all the caring.
You live with the little joys and nagging doubts over months and years, perhaps not knowing, remembering or questioning why or when it began to matter in the first place. Those pieces of heart and head devoted unconditionally, sometimes against your better judgment.
Allegiance to a pro sports team does allow for important social connection to a larger whole, both in the arena itself and beyond, across generations. That creation of community is real, and not to be diminished.
But there will ample opportunity for celebration on that scale. Plenty of it. Enough of it, truth be told.
Make sure you carve out just enough of this rare chance to make part of it always belong to you, alone.
for more features.