Your dinner table sports conversation can be reasoned and productive. Here's how.
This has been an eventful, emotional few months on the Chicago sports scene.
So when you convene with relatives for Thanksgiving dinner today, expect to be confronted with hot takes from both sides of the table.
Don't be hesitant to engage, but remember this also a great opportunity to promote reasoned sports opinions, the kind that will actually help the home teams in the long run.
So for the benefit of everyone, here is a handy Chicago sports fans guide to Thanksgiving conversation with relatives:
The Bears-Lions game will likely be over before dinner, but however it turns out, you'll almost certainly get this one: "The Bears need to fire coach Matt Nagy already."
There's no real counter-argument to this, since there appears to be no chance of Nagy returning next season, but try this approach.
"Oh yes, couldn't agree more. But when fans at Soldier Field chanted 'Fire Nagy' last Sunday, wouldn't it have made more sense to chant 'Sell the Team?' I mean, Virginia McCaskey was sitting right there. Really, what are the chances the Bears hire a coach who is better than Nagy, who's been to the playoffs twice? Am I right?"
Don't wait for an answer, just keep going.
"Or at least the fans could have chanted something like, 'Stop putting your football-illiterate sons in charge of the team, Virginia.' Maybe it wouldn't help, but at least it addresses the actual problem."
This could be a good time to involve the children's table. Ask the kids to help you form the above sentence into a catchy chant. Now your dinner is getting lively.
The QB conversation
Here's another comment sure to enter the conversation: "The Bears are painful to watch, but at least they have their franchise quarterback in Justin Fields."
OK, take a breath and think this through. Fields is a talented player, but why set expectations ridiculously high? The Bears have had one franchise QB ever and Sid Luckman played in the '40s. But 10 games into his rookie season, you're going to hand that title to Fields?
Try this response: "Yes, Fields has been fun to watch most of the time, dear relative. But let me ask you this, which rookie QB is having the best season? Mac Jones, you say? Well, should the Bears have drafted Jones instead of Fields? Should Jacksonville have taken Jones ahead of Trevor Lawrence? Don't you think Jones has shined because he's playing for coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots?
"Fields will be great if the Bears have a great team around him. If he's got a bad team around him, he's destined to fail, don't you think? That's why I'm more concerned with the entire structure of the franchise. It starts at the top."
Now that you have the Bears covered, some other local teams might pop up in conversation. Here's one example: "Do you think the Bulls are really back?"
This is an easy one. The obvious response would be, "Oh, of course they're back. They were 12-6 heading into Wednesday's game at Houston and challenging for first place in the East. Under what definition of the word are the Bulls not back?"
If your relatives are sharp basketball fans, one might use this retort: "I don't know, how long can they survive playing nothing but 6-foot-4 power forwards? Can they win a playoff series that way?"
Valid observation. Just say this and move on: "Well, I guess time will tell (pause) Alex Caruso is pretty good, though."
If your Thanksgiving dinner takes place in the area, there will likely be someone at the table who graduated from Southern Illinois, or at least went to a good party there. Try this one out:
"Hey, anyone else excited for SIU's first-round playoff game on Saturday? They're playing at South Dakota, a conference rival. Here's a hot take for all of you: The FCS playoffs are the most underrated sporting event in America. Imagine, a 24-team College Football Playoff, something the big schools could have done 30 years ago, but chose not to."
Here's one more idea: "Who watched the Loyola-Michigan State game on Wednesday? No one, because it started at 11 a.m. and you were at work? That's too bad. All of you should try becoming sports writers.
"Who made the gravy, by the way, the spice blend is terrific"