You learn something new every week. This week, I learned that “suck” is a swear word. Huh. Really? Because I say it all the time. It’s a part of my everyday speech. If someone tells me something awful has happened, I say, “Wow. That sucks.” I never considered it offensive. I know George Carlin never listed it as a forbidden word.

I also learned that to some, saying this word in front of your child is bad. Whoops. My bad, again. I taught my son to say “The Bears Suck” when he was four years old. However, I also taught him tact and appropriateness. That while saying that something sucks may be fun or funny, it is not appropriate to say in front of your grandmother, your teacher, or the school principal. Oh, did I mention one of his first phrases was “Oh, shit?” He broke a toy, looked dead at it, and said “oh, shit” clear as day. Also my fault, although I didn’t TEACH him to say it. I just didn’t watch my own mouth when I was around him. What can I say? I’m Italian. We are a cryin’, swearin’ people.

Despite my lapses in parental judgement, my son hasn’t turned out to be a deviant (so far) or a Bears fan. I’ve never had the cops at my door, or the principal on the phone. His teachers always loved him and told me what a nice, respectful student he was, but could he work a little harder on his study habits?

Why am I telling you all this? Because there has been a debate this week on sports talk radio, the blogosphere and Twitterverse regarding the Lambeau crowd chanting “The Bears Still Suck” in the waning minutes of Sunday’s Packers-Giants game. Some laughed it off as a phrase they’ve heard since 1989 and the Packer/Bear Instant Replay Game. The actual phrase is “After Further Review, the Bears Still Suck.”  I remember seeing an entire kiosk at Summerfest the following summer, selling t-shirts, sweatshirts and license plate frames with the phrase on it. They STILL sell that shirt. Hey, it was 1989-90 and we had just endured the Bart Starr/Forrest Gregg coaching disasters (Great guys. Great ex-players. Not so hot coaches). Now we were pinning all our hopes on Lindy Infante (stop laughing) and Don Majkowski. In 1989, we were still in the honeymoon phase of this relationship. We didn’t know better.  Besides, the phrase would not have gathered so much steam if not for the temper tantrum that Bears coach Mike Ditka threw regarding that game. That call reversal pissed him off so much that he demanded that an asterisk be put in the Bears record books next to the result of that game. The very thought of that game turned his face a lovely shade of magenta, and the vein in his forehead would look ready to pop. I like to think we contributed in some small way to the BMW’s and Jaguars that Chicagoland cardiologists were driving around the North Shore in the late 80′s/early 90′s. It was impossible for Packer fans not to capitalize on his irrationality by tweaking the man that we all hated with the white hot intensity of 1000 suns.

Then came the Happy Schnapps Combo. They penned a song called The Bears Still Suck. It was catchy….if you like polkas. It was played all over the state with unabashed glee in the early to mid 1990′s, especially due to the fact that the rolls had reversed.  Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren were running the show. The Packers were now the dominant team in the division and the Bears were the doormats. Hey, they got that ridiculously embarrassing Super Bowl Shuffle, we had the Happy Schnapps Combo. At least none of our players embarrassed themselves by dancing in it. Every time I see Walter Payton dancing and attempting to sing in that monstrosity, my brain hurts and I feel a deep sense of pity for the man. At least he got a ring out of it, I guess.  I thought only Caucasians danced that badly. Well, NON-ITALIAN Caucasians.

There you have the popularity of “The Bears Still Suck.” Born out of a referee’s call (was it Ed Hochuli by any chance?), fueled by Mike Ditka’s temper and our gleefully childish need to tweak it, and given eternal life in song. If you Google “The Bears Still Suck,” you get 270,000 hits.

That is the background of the phrase. Despite all that, there are those who think chanting it lacked class and that those who say it in front of children may be bad parents (raises hand, guess that makes me guilty on both counts). Those that think “sucks” is a cuss word.  Or worse, that the Bears, of all people, will use it as bulletin board material, much like the Packers used the Giants’ Antrel Rolle’s victory guarantee this week. Do they REALLY think this word/phrase is something that hasn’t caught on in Chicago, yet?

Fans in Chicago are quite familiar with the term “suck.” They chant it at Blackhawk games (“DEE-troit Sucks”), at Cub games (“White Sox Suck,” “Left Field Sucks,” “Right Field Sucks”), and at Bear games (“Green Bay Sucks”). The first time I ever went to Soldier Field in 1990, we were greeted by a hand painted banner draped across four lanes of traffic,  from an overpass that said, “F*ck Green Bay.”  They are well versed in the art of telling the opposition that they suck…or worse. I personally was called “Packer Bitch” by a WOMAN sitting three rows behind me while I was there. When it comes to class and hospitality, Bears fans are right there with Philadelphia fans.  Philly fans throw batteries, Bear fans throw beverages. I personally received a shower of hot coffee at that same game in 1990. The only thing that kept me from being burned was my Packers jacket, which was ruined by the coffee stains and had to be thrown out.  Oh, and let us not forget the racial slurs thrown at Nick Collins earlier this year. So, the thought of the Bears, or their fans, taking offense to Packer fans chanting “The Bears Still Suck” in the waning minutes of last Sunday’s game, is laughable. The Bears turning it into a motivational tool even more so.

It’s OKAY if you don’t like the chant. There are many who don’t like Aaron Rodger’s “title belt” celebration, too. It’s okay. Both the chant and the title belt celebration are things done in fun, as part of fandom. No one is hurt by either one. However, don’t lecture those who do like it, or say it, or embrace it. It’s not like they are doing something harmful, or potentially harmful (such as having scalding coffee thrown at you). As far as swearing in front of children, does “sucks” really count? Really? I’d tell a someone who continually yelled the F-bomb or racial/ethnic slurs to shut up if kids were around, but ” sucks ?” Come on. I sat in front of a guy in Soldier Field in that ’07 below zero suckfest (yes, the weather was worth swearing about on that day) who spent three hours screaming “F*ck the Packers,” and “Break Favre’s f*cking legs.” Only when he kneed me in the back of the head for the fifth time, did I turn around and say something to him. He told me to shut the eff up and called me “sister,” (non-flattering) which nearly got my son out of his seat and in his face.

Go on. Say it with me. THE BEARS STILL SUCK. It doesn’t matter if they’re 16-0, or 0-16. They’re the Bears. That means they SUCK. And believe me, the feeling is quite mutual. They’re not offended, and why should be worried if they are?


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  • gbpf127

    Very well said Anita. I can’t add anything to this with exception that I have always treated Bear and Viking fans as I would want to be treated at their stadiums. To date, I win, they lose. I refuse to go to their stadiums anymore.

    PS …. Da Bears Really Really Really Really Suck!

  • BigSnakeMan

    I can understand the motivation to want to shield one’s children from vulgarity but this is just silly. As one who has raised two teenagers, I can assure you that your kids will hear way worse than this over the course of their childhood.

    By my math, this (yes, good-natured) chant has been going on for well over 10 years and we have yet to see the fall of Western civilisation as a result. The most useful thing I’ve learned in being a parent is the importance of picking your battles. If you’re offended by this chant then fine; use it as a teaching tool. But if one is going to get all bent out of shape over something as harmless as this, they will forfeit a measure of credibility when something truly significant happens.

  • Anita

    I do think that one of the reasons Jason Wilde may have gone a bit overboard when it came to lecturing of the subject, was that Bill Johnson was off on Monday (and today, I guess. I missed Green and Gold Today). While Jason is more straight man, Bill is the “fan.” He yells. I’m pretty sure he drinks, and I’ll bet he thinks “The Bears Still Suck” is relatively harmless. Under normal circumstances, there might have been an even debate between the two, but without Bill, Jason had the open floor to voice his displeasure. I like him for the most part, but he can be a little straight laced. He needs Bill around. You need a bit of ying and yang for a good show.

  • Colleen

    Exactly what BSM said. I wanted to tell Wilde – You’ve got what 10 months of parenting? I’ve got almost 19 years. Come back when Maddie’s 18 and tell me how you think.

    And a little straight laced is an understatement. Nothing against him, but Humphrey Bogart did say not to trust anyone who doesn’t drink. ;)

  • Anita

    Quite true about the 10 months of parenting. Just wait until the teen years hit Mr. Wilde! Wow. He’ll have two girls a year apart! When the puberty monster rolls into his house, he’ll need a crash helmet. He might even START drinking.

  • Tarynfor 12

    Great article.
    I never knew that word”suck” was just a nasty one.Being of some age,I have sucked the nectar out of a orange,sucked through a straw,sucked on a piece of candy,and geez”I had no idea I was being filthy” especially doing all that sucking in public.
    So to all of those people who take a word out of the context in which it is used,send me all the lost monies I should have been getting for sucking on this and that in public and I will jump on your bandwagon to out law it.
    If the Bears can’t suck anymore,can they still blow?

  • Rich Ward

    All’s fair in love and football. It’s why being a passionate fan is so great. Some don’t like the phrase/chant/song, while others embrace. Fair enough.

    70,000 Lambeau faithful could always resort to shouting “F*** you” – “Eat sh**” like rabid Badger fans in Camp Randall. “The Bears still suck” sounds like a glowing recommendation compared to that, haha.

  • Anita

    Yeah, I’d be a little more offended about what kids hear in Camp Randall than what they hear at Lambeau! LOL.

    A Bear fan read this article and commented on my Facebook link, that the Bears may suck, but the Packers swallow. I find swallowing a bit more offensive than sucking or blowing! But it isn’t catchy enough to include in a stadium chant.

    Does this comment rate NC-17, now?