Sunday, January 23, 2011

Packers vs Bears

I was never that big of a football fan growing up.  In fact I was almost against the sport on principle alone.  You see I'm from Green Bay (or so near to as to make no difference).  Its packer country.  No really.  Wal-mart is Green and Gold.  Everything and I everything tries to be related to the Packers.  It is not a bad strategy as the fans are rabid, in a polite and mostly friendly way (I mean you wear a Cowboys jersey in the wrong place and your going to get your butt kicked).  The complete and utter devotion of my peers really turned me off as a child.  Plus, I came from a non-packer house.  What does that mean?  It meant that my dad didn't really care about football.  So, Sunday was shop in the empty stores in Green Bay day . . . and then flee the Packer Traffic.  To give you an idea the upgraded Lambeau Field stadium holds 72,928 people . . . the city has an approximate population of 101,025.  That might imply that it is hard to fill seats, but Lambeau has been sold out for each game since 1960.  So, home Packer Games really flood the city.  The point is I never really cared about football, sure wining Superbowls was fun and we all knew Brett Farve was special, but I mostly ignored all the hype.  I didn't know anything about football anyway . . .

Or at least I didn't think I did.  Then I moved away from Green Bay (and later Wisconsin) and realized I know way more than the average person about football.  And not just about the packers, but about the game and the league.  It was an interesting experience.  I went from someone who stood out for their lack of interest and football knowledge to someone who got asked what was going one.  It was around this time that my dad started watching football again.  He wanted to be able to relate to his peers.

It was only after I left that I embraced the Packers.  I had always known it was cool that the State of Wisconsin owned the Packers.  It was our team . . . and its not for profit.  We paid extra taxes to fix up the stadium.  The Packers are like an amazing social experiment about personal identity.  People put there new born babies on the list for season tickets and are hoping when they are old they might get them (over 78,000 people are on the waiting list).  By being away I finally got to see the charm of the team.  It is a team that can be described as the only team in the league to . . . whatever more than any other.  It is a little team that does big things.  The team is a lot like Wisconsin . . . ok its a lot like the Midwest even if the Bears are in the Midwest too.  The Packers are an easy way to be proud of where I come from.  I live in Canada now and everyone knows the Green Bay Packers it gives us a point of reference for each other (in fact many are Packer fans, I see Packer stuff everywhere).  Its also fun to be able to tell them the great stuff the team and individual players do for the area.  The charities are only the beginning.  One of my favorite is the tradition of the players riding the bikes of local children to practice (since Vince Lombardi).  That's right folks there is a crowd even when they are going to practice.  Packer players are visible in Green Bay.  First off, their huge and famous . . . in a city of 101,025 people.  Plus, everyone is deeply invested in how they do their jobs.  I think people are mostly cool (though a popular teenage pastime is tracking their movements through town).   I've seen players at the supermarket, gone to school with their children.  To play for the Packers you have to have the right attitude and demeanor and if you don't you need to pretend.  The city expects perfection . . . and not to much trouble.  We are small town folks after all.
Sometimes the bikes are very small . . .

In the end, I have embraced the Packers . . . just like everyone else that is from where I'm from.  But, you know I like being linked to that place and those people.  Its and unusual place filled with unusual things.  Maybe I'll talk about it more later.  For now - Go Pack GO!

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