At the risk of becoming the most unpopular girl in the state, I’d like to say that I do not like the Green Bay Packers. In fact, nine times out of 10, I hope that they lose. And it’s not because (up until the past two weekends, anyway) they were having a lackluster season–I’m no foul weather foe. In fact, their losing streak almost made me hate them less. Almost. But before you judge, I’d like to point out that it’s not because I’m a girl. And it’s not because I hate the game. (How can you hate anything that encourages you to sit in front of the television all day, get drunk and eat junk food?) Of all the sports on television, football definitely is the most entertaining. Basketball? Baseball? I’d rather watch grass grow. Oh wait, that’s what golf is for…
No, I hate the Packers because of the fans. I remember the Green Bay of my childhood losing every game, sitting at the bottom of their league and still selling out each stadium months and months in advance. I was baffled by the blind loyalty to a group of people no one had ever actually met or even seen in real life. (Apparently when I worked at a grocery store in high school, Reggie White came through my line and bought his own candy bar and I had no idea who he was. In fact, I still don’t.) I was annoyed by the use of the “we” in describing a group that was so obviously a “they”–”I hope we win,” etc.
And then the Packers began to win. And all the ambivalent fans became loyal and the loyal fans became rabid and even some of my friends started getting interested. People started putting stickers and flags on their cars as if their actions were in any way related to the team’s success. Restaurant formal wear came to mean a required suit jacket or “good sweats.” Brett Favre’s day-to-day actions became larger news stories than major world events. And you couldn’t get away without literally escaping. So I did just that–I moved far away to the socialist, intellectual bastion that is New York City. And the most amazing thing happened–I found peace. I could wear a yellow shirt under a green sweater without people trying to high-five me or talk running/downs/yardage statistics. (Oops, I mean stats. Obviously anyone who actually knows this stuff is on a familiar enough basis that they abbreviate the term.) I met people who wanted to talk about politics or literature–not the quarterback’s arm. I lived in a town with two professional football teams and I cannot remember a single conversation about either. It was fantastic.
But then, sadly, I had to leave my little liberal enclave and come back to the rah-rah Midwest. So I devised a plan to keep me out of fights and away from anyone who “Talked Pack.” I became a Jets fan. In Wisconsin, the games are few and far between, I already love the colors and the logo is supercute! Plus, when you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet for life–and that’s one of the few commitments I feel comfortable making right now. And, for some reason, people here seem to accept my Packer-bashing as long as I have an arbitrarily selected team to support. Ironically, the Jets seem to be doing very well this year. And I know it’s all because of me.
(Originally published November 4th, 2004)