Family, faith, and community make football just a gameMy daughter and I walked home from a friend’s house after the Packers’ season ended unceremoniously and convincingly last week. She was walking on air after playing with friends, and my head hung low in despair, frustration, and disappointment. Sixteen weeks of being considered the best team in the game, and it all ended in one miserable loss.
By: Eddy Gilmore, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
My daughter and I walked home from a friend’s house after the Packers’ season ended unceremoniously and convincingly last week. She was walking on air after playing with friends, and my head hung low in despair, frustration, and disappointment. Sixteen weeks of being considered the best team in the game, and it all ended in one miserable loss.
Then my little Emma said one of those things that cheers the heart of any father, and put it all into wonderful perspective for me. “Do the Packers get to go to the ball, Daddy?” I gently squeezed her hand and said, “No, Honey. The other team gets to go to the ball.” This was in the Cinderella sense, of course.
I savored the remainder of the one-mile walk with my girl as we walked past Christmas lights still strung, and she talked about her friends, games, Daisies (Girl Scouts), and other things. It was a lovely stroll home on a balmy winter night that otherwise would have been miserable had I been alone to stew in my own thwarted hopes. Why do men invest so much emotional energy in their football teams?
I, for one, have become more obsessive about Packer Nation since moving to the Gopher State. There’s something awesome about being a Packer fan while living behind enemy lines here in Viking country, and frankly it is the main thing that ties me to my original homeland of Wisconsin.
Many Wisconsinites bleed green and gold and proudly bear the label “cheesehead.” It really is a much larger part of our identity than the Vikings is for the average Minnesotan.
The fact that the team is owned by the community (112,000 individual stock holders at last count), rather than a meddling billionaire owner, is a big part of it. Ninety-one years of history also connects generations of fans. My grandfather attended Super Bowl I, for instance, witnessing the Packers’ first Super Bowl victory.
Also, we don’t need scantily clad cheerleaders as an inducement to follow our team. In Green Bay, cheerleaders from UW Green Bay and St. Norbert College volunteer for cheering duties, in attire their fathers would approve of. Take a trip to the Vikings website right now, and you’ll see a significant percentage of the website pandering to the cheap marketing philosophy that sex sells.
Week in and week out, a small-town American team represents hard work and perseverance for the most part, rather than the greed that epitomizes so many of the teams in the larger markets. It’s David and Goliath redux.
There are currently more fans (86,000) on the waiting list for season tickets than there are seats. About only 90 season tickets become available each year, because it’s not uncommon for season tickets to be in the wills of devoted fans. At that rate it could be hundreds of years on the waiting list for latecomers.
Compare that with perennial issues faced by the Vikings, such as television blackouts due to the stadium not being filled in a much larger metropolitan area. Can you imagine a stock sale in Minnesota to help pay a portion of the new stadium? It’s just not in the DNA here.
That said, I hope the Vikings never leave this state, and that they even enjoy some semblance of thriving in the near future. Rivalries make the game interesting, and the Vikings have made me a stronger Packer fan.
If it weren’t for the Vikings’ many solid seasons in the nineties and from a couple years ago, my Packer obsession wouldn’t have blossomed into anything anywhere near the problem it has become. Your team has helped give purpose to this obsession that finds me on a couch on many beautiful Sunday afternoons.
At the end of the day, however, my daughter helped teach me that none of this really matters anyway. Family, faith, and community, are things actually worth investing one’s life in. Do I really want to be known simply as a Packer fan? Such are the things to remember when the greatest team in the history of the world goes out and sucks an egg.
Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is a freelance writer, father of twins and husband of one. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.