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Beyond The Bears: Our Other Football Fandoms

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There’s more to football than just the NFL...

Brady Brockmiller (15) of the Hannibal Falcons vs Macomb Roughnecks in MA8FL action this spring.

Anybody reading this post on a Sunday morning during the deepest pit of the off-season is likely a fanatical Chicago Bears fan (or at least a fanatical fan of SOME NFL team).

I am a Chicago Bears fan root and branch.

Having said that, I do have my other football fandoms as I am sure most of you do as well.

Most of us have a college team or two that we support. In my case, I root for two... the “big school” from the state of my youth (more or less) and the college I attended.

My “big school” is actually pretty small compared to most... I am a Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors fan...

USC v Hawaii
Vili Fehoko, University of Hawaii Mascot at Aloha Stadium
Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

It’s been an off-and-on struggle to be a Warriors fan in recent years, but thankfully after too long of an absence, we returned to the Hawai’i Bowl this season and won it!

The college I attended, however, is another matter. I am an Alum of Culver-Stockton in Missouri, an outstanding school with a long and consistent history of losing football. I personally have been on hand when we broke losing streaks of 27 games in a row and 32 games in a row. Go Cats? Go Cats!

I also cover high school sports for KHQA-TV 7 out of Quincy, Illinois as a cameraman, and as a journalist I find it important to be impartial... to a point. I will always root for one of “our teams” (the teams in our coverage area) when they play schools who are not in our viewership area. In our area? Not so much.

It becomes hard when, for example, teams like Monroe City play South Shelby or Knox County, because I have friends on the coaching staffs and I want both sides to win. It in no way affects my coverage, because highlights are highlights, and they will air.

There’s one team I ALWAYS root for in our area these days, and that’s the North Shelby Raiders. North Shelby is the only team in the Tri-State area (Illinois-Iowa-Missouri) that plays 8-man football. On a side note, a couple of years ago before North Shelby switched over to 8-man from 11-man, I was on hand in Mexico, MO to cover the Raiders breaking a 63-game losing streak... this came a few seasons after (on the same field) I covered West Hancock (Illinois) breaking their long losing streak as well... around the station I am known as ‘the streak breaker’.

In addition to all these football outlets, I have one more fanatical fandom when it comes to the gridiron... my love of spring semi-pro football, particularly the MA8FL and it’s predecessor the 8FL.

Chris Paul, LB, Quincy Spartans in an early season (May) game. Yes, Chris is a Bear’s fan.

The MA8FL is a league located in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri and features 8-man ball (rules very similar to Arena League). the field is 60 yards long, and first downs are achieved by crossing the 15 yard lines on each side as well as midfield. Depending on where you take over the ball, you may have a “1st & 14” or a “1st & 2”, both being perfectly normal. There are no field goals, short conversions are 1 point & long ones 2, choose before the play is run. Very high scores are the norm (the most I have personally ever seen is 112 points in a game) whereas a score of 62-44 is quite common.

Most importantly, they play in the spring, so every Sunday from late February/early March until June I have football to watch.

It’s a very exciting game, played by men who are out there just because they love to play football. The higher end players often are arena level. My wife an I have been long-time photographers for first the Quincy Spartans and now the Hannibal Falcons.

My last team I root for is in the Canadian Football League, the CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Right now we are 1-1 in the regular season (I’m writing this Wednesday, before Thursday’s game against Toronto), and following them helps me survive this time of the off-season in the NFL.

SO... those are my football loves... who/what are yours? Who do you root for? College? Your old HS team? Arena? Another NFL team as your “second team”?

Spill the beans!