Remember the glory years of the Blackhawks? Yeah, me too. For years, as another futile White Sox season drew to a close, I could console myself that hockey was starting soon, and for almost a decade, the Blackhawks were perennial contenders. Three-time Stanley Cup winners, too, in 2010, 2013 and 2015, in case anyone forgot. Then the Blackhawks took a turn, with two first-round playoff exits in a row, followed by last year, when they failed to make the playoffs at all. This season, they have hovered between the bottom of the standings and the bottom playoff spot in the Western Conference, along with a half-dozen other teams. There have been signs of life of late, but no one seems to be hoping for much more than sneaking into the playoffs. And still I watch almost every game that I can. Still we keep our partial season-ticket plan, although there is no way we could resell the tickets (three rows from the top of the 300 level) at even face value, let alone at a profit. It doesn’t matter. We didn’t sell the tickets at a profit even when the team was winning. We bought them for Frank, the year he started playing hockey. We still consider them his tickets —he gets first crack at them — but now, a senior in high school, he misses more games than he makes, what with his own practices and games and work schedule. Next year, he’ll likely be away at school, but we plan to keep the tickets anyway. Now Teresa has started going to games with me, and she is surprisingly into it. Maybe because the Blackhawks won all three games I took her to this year, twice in overtime. But she stays in her seat until the whistle and watches and cheers and whisper-shouts “Get it out. Get it out. No, out. Out!” and dances with 20,000 other people when they score. That, when it comes down to it, is why we follow sports and why we’re fans of certain teams. It’s not because we believe that our team is objectively the best at its sport each and every year (remember, I’m a lifelong White Sox fan). It’s because we want to find a connection, and the team offers a conduit. They give us something to talk about — within our family, with friends, even with strangers. They give us something to hope for. Even in down seasons, there’s always next year. They give us a reason to reach out beyond ourselves. That impulse to reach out is a human one. God made us humans to live in communities: in families, among friends. We as Catholics believe that we must also worship God in community. A God who is love cannot be loved in isolation. We cannot love God without loving one another. If cheering on our sports teams helps us do that, then so much the better.