The case for why White Sox fans should cheer for the Cubs has been made. Even if your tribal boundaries are solidly black and cannot be made to extend around the city of Chicago, you the White Sox fan should cheer for the Cubs because the Cubs represent what is right with baseball. Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein and the rest of the Cubs front office built the team the right way. And they built a really likable team. In other words, the Cubs are an organization and a team to cheer for, especially for a White Sox fan increasingly frustrated with the seemingly perpetual malady that is the White Sox organization and this past year’s discontent. Plus, baseball is better when the Cubs are good. Or so the arguments goes. While White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson, White Sox fan President Obama and other Sox fans are rooting for the Cubs, many others are not.
From it being disrespectful to lifetime Cubs fans to distaste for everything the Cubs represent to fandom-based apathy, many White Sox fans simply cannot root for the Cubs. It can be argued it should be that way. If you’re a true fan you simply cannot cheer for another team. And this is separate from the other grievous error of becoming a bandwagon fan. It would therefore be wrong to cheer for the Cubs if you are a White Sox fan just because the Cubs are still in the playoffs. If you wouldn’t cheer for the Cubs in an exclusively Chicago World Series then you shouldn’t cheer for the Cubs. Period.
However, there would appear to be an even more base reason: self-preservation. In the city of Chicago, much less nationwide, it can sometimes seem difficult to find a Sox fan. They certainly are not at the games. They don’t buy very much Sox apparel. They don’t even appear to actually like the White Sox much of the time. And their numbers seem to be rapidly shrinking.
Below are maps generated using Facebook data from 2014 on how many Facebook users “liked” each team in a given ZIP code. The map on the left is from the New York Times, the one on the right is from DNAinfo Chicago.
These maps show that while the Cubs may be the better-loved of Chicago’s baseball teams the White Sox certainly have their own territory of support. The south side of the city extending well into the south suburbs are full of Sox fans. Now the 2016 map courtesy of DNAinfo Chicago.
This 2016 map, generated using similar analysis, shows Cubs fans taking over the city and beyond. According to DNAinfo Cubs fans outnumber White Sox fans in all but five of the city’s ZIP codes. However, the number of Chicago Facebook users who professed liking the Cubs only rose 2.5 percent over the past 2 years. For the Sox is decline is similar. There aren’t that many more Cubs fans than before or fewer Sox fans, but Cubs fans are spreading.
It is important to note that this Facebook data should not necessarily be taken at face value. There are numerous reasons a Facebook user may profess to liking the Cubs other than actual fandom, just as there are numerous reasons a White Sox fan may not profess that fandom. Thereby, it is entirely possible the number of Cubs fans in this 2016 map are overestimated while White Sox fans are underestimated. But as a simple comparison the situation looks bad for the Sox and Sox fans.
White Sox fans can’t be happy for the Cubs because White Sox fans barely exist. And the fact that the Cubs seem poised for a decade of championship contention while the Sox are mired mediocrity may drive more discontent and disaffected Sox fans to the team to the north. But don’t despair Sox fans, it’s not far to travel, judging from the map the Cubs are already next door.