Posted by Zach Silva on May 12, 2010
For some reason I’m struggling to get to sleep tonight. It could be the fact that I have an exam in six hours on a subject that I know very little about (inventory management…really?). Or it could be that I have a paper due tomorrow morning on a book that I haven’t read yet. Or it could be that finals begin next week. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m juggling five jobs now. It might have something to do with the pot of coffee I made at midnight (bad idea in hindsight). But I think it’s this little conundrum I’ve been dealing with lately that’s keeping me up.
I can’t seem to figure out why the Green Bay Packers are so beloved in the state of Wisconsin. You may be saying to yourself, “Self, why would a question like this bother a college student during finals? Shouldn’t he be studying and focused and ready for summer?” I agree. I shouldn’t care about minor things like this, but I do. And thanks to the internet, I now have a place to share my thoughts, however trivial they may be.
But think about it for a minute, please. The Packers are far and away the most popular team in the state. It’s not even up for debate. They get the most media coverage, sell the most merchandise, and have a 45 year waiting list for season tickets (it’s probably longer now). The Brewers? Well nobody cared about them until they started winning games. Growing up, I remember going to County Stadium and then Miller Park and seeing absolutely no one there. The nightly news didn’t talk about them. You couldn’t buy a Brewers shirt anywhere but at stadium store. There was no pride. The same thing can be said for the Bucks. Last year, no one went to games. It was empty every night at the Bradley Center. Lambeau remains packed (no pun intended) every Sunday, though.
In my humble opinion, I’m not an idiot. I know that attendance and coverage and support generally correlate strongly with winning. Win more games, gain more fans, make more money. That sums up professional sports. When the Brewers turned it around, people got excited. The same thing happened this year with the Bucks. The city of Milwaukee went crazy when these teams made the playoffs. It was great. But what the Brewers and Bucks have experienced recently has been common for the Packers in my lifetime (born in 1989…thanks mom and dad!).
Year in and year out, no matter how they play, the Packers dominate the state. It could be that I grew up in the Mike Holmgren and Brent Era. Since I was born, the team has only had four losing seasons. Even when they were bad, fans still had faith. I feel as though when the Brewers lose, people just assume that they suck and will be terrible again. When the Packers lose, though, they can still reason that everything is ok. I struggle to understand this concept. I guess when a franchise is successful for twenty straight years, fans tend to stick with the team.
I should probably make an attempt to study for my exam. I’m already committed to not sleeping, which is probably a poor choice (honestly…when the sun comes up, there’s no point in going to bed). Hopefully I can put this whole Packers question on the backburner and instead focus on inventory management (I’m bored and confused just typing it). Keep me in your thoughts today. I’ll need a lot of luck and a lot more caffeine.
Got an idea on why cheeseheads love the Pack so much? Have any tips on managing inventory that may help on an exam? Email me at email@example.com. Don’t make me beg next week, ok?
Posted by Holly Phelps on April 29, 2010
Friends, I have a confession to make. I haven’t lived in Wisconsin for over 15 years, and I’m not expecting to move back anytime soon. I am resigned to be, unless something big happens, a transplanted Packer fan. But I stand firm, for yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of…uh…burgundy McNabb jerseys, I will fear no rival fan: for the Packers art with me.
As I’ve gotten to know more Packers fans, through blogs and now Twitter, I’ve been struck by the ability of Packer Nation to transcend geographic borders. On game days, you can find live-blogs and chats all over the web. Throughout the season, there are tweets flying furiously after big plays and roster moves. Still, there’s something about that human connection. I recently traveled to Taiwan for work, and in the space of two weeks, I saw no less than four people wearing Packers gear (yes, there was a Cowboys sweatshirt as well, but I figure he was just out of clean clothes). It got me thinking about what it means to be a Packer fan outside of Wisconsin, where every G you spy on a T-shirt or hat is a friendly “hello” from a fellow fan of the green & gold.
I live in Washington DC, which is an interesting place in general, if only because it brings so many people together for so many different reasons. When watching at the bar, along with the locals, you’re likely to meet a guy in town from Milwaukee for a conference, who delayed his flight to catch the game. You may also meet the college kid from Oshkosh, aghast that the dorms at Georgetown don’t carry NFL Sunday Ticket, or the congressional aide from Madison, stopping by to see the score before heading back to Capitol Hill. And, sometimes you’ll also see that fan who’s never lived in Wisconsin, who’ll never get to Lambeau, but who bleeds green and gold just the same. It doesn’t matter how you came to cheer for the Packers, once the game starts. It’s a fantastic mixture, and we’re a friendly bunch.
Since I moved out of Wisconsin, I’ve never felt embarrassed about cheering for the Packers. While in Cincinnati, it was frequently the “Bungles” fans that hung their heads and made excuses. In college outside New York City, the Giants and Jets fans harassed each other and left me pretty well alone (except when Brent threw crazy picks). Regardless of how the home team was doing, after the initial trash talk was past, there usually came an admission: “Yeah, but the Packers are OK, too.”
In many football cities, team loyalty is preached early and often. (In Pittsburgh, priests wash their hands at Sunday Mass with Terrible Towels.) Yet, some who’ve grown up in Washington cheer for Dallas purely to spite the Redskins (somehow, it’s never the Eagles). Some take the “everybody but the local team” approach. My cousin, who grew up in Normal, IL, rejected the nearby Bears (a smart move) and chose the 49ers instead (eh). There are ways to buck the trend, but in many places, the alternative teams are few and far between. In Washington, however, where there are at least 3 people from each state (1 congressman and 2 senators), you can take your pick. (You can even find fans of the Jaguars!)
As far as I’m concerned, DC is a pretty easy place to be a fan of Green Bay. I know there are other, less Packer-friendly football cities out there. So, to Packer fans who live in Minneapolis or Dallas, I salute you, for you are strong and worthy. I don’t know how you can manage. And for any who happened to choose the Packers over the local team (or who chose the Packers when there was no home team to speak of), I’ll raise a glass to you, for thou restoreth my (football-loving) soul.
Holly will usually write about the other 31 teams, but she doesn’t really care at this point who Carolina drafted (although Tebow-to-Denver was hilarious). Got a good story about being a fan in a cheese-free land? Leave a comment here, or you can contact Holly by email or on Twitter.
Posted by Tim Cigelske on April 21, 2010
[Fan] From the Latin fanaticus, meaning “insanely but divinely inspired.”
Photo by etonz
During my career as a journalist, I was once given an assignment to interview a guy who lived in a house painted entirely in Packer green and gold.
It turned out to be one of my more surreal interviews. Not just because the 65-year-old pajama-wearing Packer fan offered me marijuana and introduce me to his pit bull Tupac.
His affinity for the Packers began before the first Super Bowl, he told me. He had to choose whether to root for the Packers or the Kansas City Chiefs in what was then known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
He lived in New York, so he picked the Packers because they were marginally closer to the East Coast. (Though he admits that “they could have dropped the A-bomb on Green Bay, and I wouldn’t have known where it was.”)
“Plus,” he added, “I liked the color green.”
Other than this info, the interview was largely incoherent. I was trying to pin him down about why exactly he was motivated to bathe his entire house in Packer colors, but he would expound on any topic except the one I wanted.
Once he interrupted a meandering tirade to ask if I was Irish.
“I’ve been told that I look Irish,” I said. “But I’m actually mostly German, even though I have a psuedo-Polish last name.”
Then I tried to direct him back for the 46 billionth time: Why did he paint his house Packer green and gold?
“Because sooner or later,” he said, “I knew I’d getting f—ing German-looking Irish kids to ask me questions about it.”
“Don’t you mean Irish-looking German kids?” I asked.
Looking back, I think repeated queries about the unusual house colors were stupid questions. I don’t think he really could answered. That’s because the basic act of fandom seems rooted in irrationality.
Why do we derive personal satisfaction from feats of one group of individuals — and revile others who derive similar satisfaction from another group of individuals? The Onion headline put it best, “You will suffer humiliation when the sports team from my area defeats the sports team from your area.”
Whatever our motivation, there’s something undeniably deep-seeded and human about our banding together to cheer on a team. It’s in our DNA. And one byproduct of this context is often bizarre, wildly entertaining behavior. I am fascinated by that.
Fans, by definition, are marginalized. But not here. That’s why I’m not going to focus on the stars on the field, but rather the fans in the stands.
Know any bizarre, wildly entertaining Packer fans? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org