Simply put, Players Sport & Social Group helps more than 60,000 people each year get together, meet new friends, and have fun. The two-decade-old company has more than doubled in size in the last five years, due in no small part to the wide variety of sports leagues and clinics that it offers at venues throughout the city. Teams or individuals can sign up for sports ranging from dodge ball to beach volleyball to games of "bags," otherwise known as cornhole. Players can check their weekly standings online and review each sport's rules, learning exactly what is considered a foul in kickball or how to dispose of a football opponent's captured flag by burning it in a respectful ceremony.
The company also hosts and sponsors social events such as happy hours, fundraisers, and the Luau: a 55,900-participant grass-volleyball tournament with DJ music, food, and beer. Similarly, The Big Dig volleyball tournament offers the same mix of munchies, brews, and live entertainment, but on the sands of North Avenue Beach.
Kindled on October 8, 1997?the 126th anniversary of Chicago's infamous blaze?the Chicago Fire played their first Major League Soccer season in 1998 as one of the league's first expansion teams?and nabbed its first and only MLS Cup in that inaugural season. Under the supervision of U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley, the club has been a hazard ever since, taking home four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophies and reaching the playoffs in nearly every year of its existence. Located in Bridgeview, Toyota Park hosts each home game, its grounds spacious enough to seat 20,000 and fertile enough for planting new soccer-net saplings each spring.
The 'K' of the Chicago Sky's logo towers above the other letters, two thin prongs poking out from the top?a nod to the most famous of the city's iconic buildings. Fittingly inspired by the Chicago skyline, the Sky's uniforms have represented the Windy City since 2006. In those years, some of the WNBA's top players have donned the blue and yellow threads, including Candice Dupree, Epiphanny Price, and Sylvia Fowles?a defensive star who also wore red, white, and blue in London in 2012. In 2010, the Sky transitioned from the UIC Pavilion to a new, permanent home court, packing its neatly folded coaches into suitcases and moving to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.
Built from the ground up in 2007, the Sheffield Baseball Club, Ivy League Baseball Club, and Wrigley Field Rooftop Club feature full-service bars stocked with premium draft beers and spreads of meaty entrees and sweet desserts. Extra-wide cushioned seats, outdoor plasma televisions, and canopied table areas recall the luxury of watching a game at home, and elevators shuttle guests to and from each of the handicap-accessible clubs' multiple levels. Between pitches, attendees can catch glimpses of Chicago's skyline looming in the distance, where the Willis Tower and Wrigley Building can be seen painting "Go Cubs!" across their exposed bellies.
If you're looking for a little roller rink excitement Chicago-style, go check out the Windy City Rollers, the city's premier all-female roller derby league. For just 14 bucks, this Groupon gets you into an action-packed battle between the Windy City Rollers and the Philly Roller Girls at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday, July 25, 7 p.m.
The ECHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, the Elmira Jackals skated onto the scene in 2000 as a member of the United Hockey League. After a successful seven-year run in the UHL—including a playoff appearance in their very first season—the Jackals moved to the ECHL in 2007–2008, where they've remained since. Although the Jackals are still in hot pursuit of their first Kelly Cup, the team has earned a playoff berth in every season, highlighted by an Eastern Conference regular-season title in 2011–12. Off the ice, the Jackals remain active in the community with efforts led by mascot Blade, who's often spotted mingling with fans at parties, retail stores, and while getting his eyebrows waxed at local spas.