Dublin: 6°C Tuesday 25 January 2022

In the city of Chicago, sport completely dominates the landscape

Rugby will have to wait until later in the week to register with the public, however.

Updated at 12.00

Sean Farrell reports from Chicago

THIS CITY IS abuzz with sport.

Many populous places have a nasty habit of crowding out big sports events, as London did with the World Cup last year. But Chicago and its 2.7 million inhabitants do a fine job of revolving around their ball games.

This close to a presidential election, we arrived fully-prepared for the ultimate soap opera to be inescapable. Perhaps it’s because of the incredibly divisive nature of the politics, or just because we’re mixing in the wrong crowds, but exposure to the Trump v Clinton issue has been restricted to TV attack ads in between innings and time-outs. Although a couple wearing Donald and Hillary masks in Soldier Field last night did draw hearty laughter when the “Bear Hug cam” honed in on them during a first-half break.


In bars and hotel lobbies, it feels like one TV in seven is carrying political news. The remainder is divided between a local TV crew following the Cubs to Cleveland, live sport and Sportscentre, which yesterday featured a Halloween half-hour special in which a Conor McGregor impersonator trash-talked mock versions of the rest of US sport’s biggest names.

There are signs for Saturday’s Test match on lamp-posts city-wide, but rugby isn’t quite on the radar for the average sports fan yet here. New Zealand’s indoor training facility for the week is a floor in a city centre super-gym complete with a seven-storey indoor climbing wall that rivals only the letters on Trump Tower for ridiculousness of scale.

While serial winners like Jerome Kaino, Malakai Fekitoa and Wyatt Crockett set to work in the weight room, they drew flustered glances from much skinnier, mortal men, who did not quite grasp the athleticism and skill of the lads claiming a bench in front of them.

Chicagoans have enough to care about on their plate. Last night, a Bears side most considered hapless, somehow delivered their best performance of the NFL season to and upended northern rivals the Minnesota Vikings.


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As fans streamed out of the lakeside venue, pockets of them gathered their voice together and delivered a hymn that is fast becoming an anthem for the week: Go Cubs Go.


The incredibly corny ditty first trundled round these eardrums after they claimed a win Sunday’s elimination game in the baseball World Series, when Cubs fans were drunk on more than just revived optimism.

“It’s gonna happen,” say the signs held up in the ball park and left on car windscreens.

A woman sitting in her third floor apartment window yelled ‘let’s go Cubs’ at passing strangers, allowing them to cheer in response from underneath hoodies and scarves to guard against the cool night air. With each repeat, she upped an octave, and the squeal of  he seventh go gave reason to worry she might just keel over and out.

Tonight, Game Six of the World Series will be in Cleveland. Yet the city will once again convene in public, clad in blue and whatever merchandise they deem most appropriate.

Ireland arrived this side of the Atlantic overnight and will face the media in their Trump Tower base this afternoon. Perhaps then they can make us feel some of that ‘it’s gonna happen’ positivity and let us believe that a shock is on the cards and a 111-year winless run is about toe be ended.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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