Chi-Town is Draft Town
Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose, Isiah Thomas, Jabari Parker, the list can go on forever. When people think of sports in Chicago, basketball is the number 1 thought, and maybe baseball due to the recent success of Jackie Robinson West (JRW). Recently declared basketball capital of the world, Chicago encountered something a lot different this year by hosting the 2015 NFL draft. Football? Yes football, perhaps one of the most electrifying events held in the city of Chicago next to the Black Hawks championship parade just a couple of years back. Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre in Chicago was over flooded with 200,000 football heads. Not to mention, the other thousand backing up Michigan Ave just to get a glimpse of the NFL Draft logo plastered outside of the auditorium. Even Green Bay Packer fans made the trip over to hostile Bears territory to experience a rare moment in Chicago’s already crazed history. Children of all ages ran rapid through old Grant Park, tossing footballs and even making formed tackles; making a sure statement as a 2021 draft pick. A football themed festival was held in perhaps the busiest area of downtown as if it was college football game day in Florida or Bama. The once known urban, basketball city was suddenly a rousing football town hosting anxious fans and All-American football prospects. “It was fantastic. In many ways, it was Super Bowl-like,” — NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. With the NFL draft being held in a not so football based city, it was quite seldom to see this type of turn out and the broad base of kids feeling the trains to participate in the festivities. The 3 day draft event was not fun for just the kids, the tailgate like portion of the now Draft Town was dedicated to Draft Tavern, where fans were able to choose among more than 50 different varieties of beer on tap. Not only that, but for the very first time in draft history, the NFL draft hosted a flag football tournament for children, which was a brilliant idea. The draft was successful for Chicago’s youth, show casing that there is more to sports than just basketball. Roosevelt University’s campus was in fact live for three days straight. Since 51 Bears fans reunite for a great early pick of the first round. However it was not the adult attendance that were shocking, it was the youth attendance. Seems as if every kid put down the basketball or Play Station to join in the festivities at Grant Park. “To see this large group of children is incredible, nothing like it”. A downtown resident expressed to an on duty reporter. Before the NFL event commenced, Chicago was already a top competitor in next years’ choice of draft town. Substantially, the NFL draft in Chicago is a big deal for the mayor and for the city; and so were the children. Despite being the future of our nation, the kids were used as props and/or extras. Before being held accountable for participating in drills at the many football clinics, kids were told to pop a squat in the grass and endure assembly like speeches from politicians, football gods and boring men in suits marketing the NFL. After all, the NFL is a business right? “The NFL has captured the heart of America,” stated Mihali Stavlas from Raleigh, N.C, who was strolling through town to convey a speech at the American Marketing Association meeting following draft week. “What they’ve created is recession-proof. It reaches out to the American family. Men are drawn to it. Women love it. The whole thing, it’s all so absolutely brilliant.” Perhaps the perfect plan for the men and suits. Drawing the attention of the fans, and mostly the youth, which brings in the thousands of dollars. Maybe the NFL draft was a plan for marketing in a popular urban setting as Chicago. Or maybe the NFL picked Chicago out of a fish bowl, as if it was split the pot at peewee league football game. Whatever the reason, the NFL draft impacted Chicago in an immense way. Until next time, see you next year.