Are the Cubs Making the Bears Irrelevant?

The Chicago Cubs dominance could push the Bears towards obscurity in the Windy City.

Chicago sports fans can all remember where they were the night of November 2, 2016. The night the Chicago Cubs’ long, painful drought of 108-years without a World Series victory, had come to an end. Many Bears fans were also ecstatic for their in-state baseball team, but it was the night of October 20, 2016, that looms over the team.

That night in late October, was when both Chicago teams were placed in prime time and were forced to go head-to-head. For the Bears, it was a Thursday night matchup against the arch-rival Green Bay Packers, as for the Cubs it was an NLCS game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As many sports fans are aware, the sport of baseball has fallen to in popularity when it comes to television ratings. Many of those once prominent baseball teams now lack any national appeal compared to their NFL counterparts.

Back to that dawning night for Bears fans, besides the fact that they lost, they also lost in their local market, as the Cubs game stomped all over the Bears. Imagine the Cubs and Bears were boxing, the Cubs would have scored a first-round KO as they destroyed the Bears with a TV rating victory of 24.1 to 12.8.

Why is this so troubling? Well, in a similar occurrence in St. Louis, the dominant, constantly winning baseball team (Cardinals) took away the mass interest of the football team (Rams). For what it is worth, the Rams are no longer in St. Louis.

Not that Chicago is in any danger of losing their football team, Chicago is a much larger market than St. Louis. It still does not negate the fact these numbers could loom large.

As stated earlier, from a national perspective the NFL is much more appealing to fans than MLB. But this night swayed the other way, based on the cable numbers, that simply was not the case as at the Cubs again clobbered the Bears.

On FS1 the Cubs drew 7,180, 000 viewers; on the much more watched NFL Network the Bears game drew 3,036,000. This is of note because before the Cubs went on their run, the channel FS1 was virtually unwatched.

This becomes an issue given that where the Bears have placed in the past years, they receive very little national attention. And if recent trends continue, they may not receive much from the city of Chicago.

Fast forward to next year, according to Oddshark, the Cubs are prohibited favorites to repeat. They currently hold a line of +375. The next best, Boston at +600.

As the Cubs remain stacked with talent, the Bears have, well, very little. Depending on who they draft with the 3rd overall pick, they may have to go back to QB Jay Cutler. For those that are unaware, Cutler is not exactly deemed as “box office”.

Michael Wilbon of ESPN, a longtime Chicago native, and sports fan was very well-known this years for expressing his lack of interest in the football team he once loved. He has now turned his full attention to the baseball team looking to repeat, as he “doesn’t trust Bears to do anything right”.


Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser discussing the future of the Bears

There is no reason to think the Bears will be a playoff team next year. If they remain irrelevant in October again, while the Cubs are in the postseason – look for those numbers to becoming even more lopsided in favor of the Cubs.
To be fair the Cubs were facing a 108-year World Series drought. Making their World Series the most watched since 1991. Those numbers may keep on rising as they have a clear path to becoming the second most popular team in the league (Yankees are number 1).

To give some perspective, the Packers and Redskins playoff game drew 38.85 million viewers, the Cubs game 7 drew in a massive 40 million.

The Bears have fallen so much since that 2010 NFL Championship game, and they are on the verge of becoming an afterthought in their city. This all results in extended pressure on the front office to turn this around before it is too late- or before the Cubs become a dynasty.

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