When I was picketing in the bitter cold of the winter of 1973, I was a member of the AFL-CIO #1: Chicago Teachers’ Union. I took the Howard El from Rogers Park to downtown, and transferred to another El, which took me to Simpson School on the near West side. All we wanted: pencils, pens, more desks, paper, and supplies to teach our students. I needed textbooks for my students who were expected to learn Social Studies, Geography, and Spanish. We never had enough.
I held my protest sign tightly, while my fingers were nearly frost-bitten. The smiles from everyone on the El kept me going. I marched around Simpson School with my colleagues, never knowing if our demands would be met, yet knowing my cause was just.
But that was Chicago, as my father Zozzy always told me: a strong union town where middle class people worked hard, as he and his brothers always did. If our work was not being honored, or we were being taken advantaged of, then we knew what to do. I followed tradition well.
Fast forward October 15, 2011. It’s time to Occupy Halas Hall, a la Occupy Wall Street. It’s time to protest the inattention, the ineptitude, and the nonsense displayed by the 1%: the McCaskeys, GM Angelo, Lovie Smith, Mike Martz, Rod Marinelli and management- toward our beloved Bears’ team, toward our players, and most definitely, for their defamation of our national reputation.
Halas Hall: how many of you know where our infamous owners spend their days? 36 miles North of Soldier Field , at 1000 Football Dr., Lake Forest, Il. 60045. A place surrounded by woods, trees, and grass. Wow – seems as if the McCaskeys and Angelo could play a round of golf either at Knollwood Club or Conway Farms. Or take a stroll to get away from it all at the Savannah Country Forest Preserve. Nice. They’re probably just thinking: “Clear my head. What me, worry? Far away from anyone in the city of Chicago – too crowded, too dirty for my liking.”
But as fans, sportswriters and sportscasters for ESPN, the Tribune, Sun-Times, AM670, AM720, AM780, AM1000, Chicago Tribune Live - we’re the 99%. We’re the 99% that are protesting, that are angry, that know our beloved team is becoming the laughing stock of the NFL.
I know we’re not in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, or Tahrir Square in Egypt. I know most of you have not been to the Haymarket Square Memorial on Lake St. and Des Plaines St., honored by Mayor Richard Daley, commemorating working class’ struggles for an 8 hr. day on May 1, 1886, and "the right of every human being to pursue an equitable and prosperous life."
But at some point, we 99% need to truly ask ourselves: How can the Bears’ players continue to suit up and follow every play that Martz calls into the huddle? How can the defense continue to line-up in Marinelli’s Tampa 2 defense, when every team knows how to beat it down field? How can Jay continue to come to the line of scrimmage with a play that the opposing team knows exactly how to defend, instead of allowing Jay the ability to call an audible?
How can the team have any respect in Lovie’s post-game conferences, or pre-game preparation at this point in the season? How many times can our players hear him say that a game is not a “ must win,” or that “we’re better than the results seen on the field?” How can we expect our players to believe that management is supporting them to pursue an "equitable" opportunity to even compete in the league?
The ever-expanding Occupy Wall Street Movement cannot be ignored. 99% of us Chicago Bear fans need to have our voices heard. I know it’s too much to ask us to stay away from the games. I know that we want to show our support for Jay, Brian, Matt, Earl, Robbie, Julius, Lance, Peanut, and the rest. I know they need to know we have their backs, given that the 1% does not. We know their grit. We know the pride they hold – and how their bosses have let them down.
So: how about bringing some signs to the games? The Power of Protest is part of Chicago. This South Side Sports Chick’s Protest Signs would read:
WE ARE THE 99% DISCONTENTED BEAR FANS
DOWN WITH ANGELO
DOWN WITH LOVIE
DOWN WITH MARTZ
SELL THE TEAM TO MARK CUBAN
SIGN FORTE TO A LONG TERM CONTRACT
JON GRUDEN FOR COACH
BILL COWHER FOR COACH
WALTER, WE LOVE YOU