It takes a special kind of person to be a dedicated football fan
Football fans catch a lot of flak for being crazy. Funny hats, body paint, standing out half-naked in cold weather – all of this looks pretty mentally unbalanced. Even when you know beer is involved, it still looks nutty. And everybody has somebody they think is crazier or more obsessed than they are. I know in West Virginia, the crazies are the Ohio State fans. Come to think of it, most states surrounding Ohio think Ohio State fans are craziest in the country. I did, too.
Then I met the cheeseheads.
For those of you who don’t know it, the “cheeseheads” are the Green Bay Packers fans. They get the name because they wear foam hats shaped like a wedge of cheese. They do this, not because it has something to do with the Packers, but because Green Bay is in Wisconsin, whose major export is cheese. And this is the least of the things they do that push the envelope of fandom.
But first, an important fact: The Packers were formed in 1919 and are the only team in the NFL to retain its original name and city of origin. The reason for this is simple: The Packers are not owned by an individual – they are owned by the city of Green Bay and are considered to be a community treasure.
This possibly explains some of the insanity that goes on during game day. After all, when you own the team, you have a right to go a little over the top. But, keep in mind, these are normal football fans, with the standard degree of football mania, who own the team.
Sure there’s the usual nonsense -?going shirtless, funny hats, lots of beer and body paint, but the cheeseheads take it to the next level. Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa … usually the places Packers fans live aren’t football country for most of the year. It’s hockey country. It’s very, very cold there with a lot of snow and ice. It takes a lot of dedication to keep up with a sport that the weather doesn’t favor. It’s one thing to go shirtless in 22 degree weather – it’s something else to do so in 9 degrees. It also takes a special kind of fan to dress in SCUBA gear and go swimming in said snow during games.
But what the fans really do that make them the craziest in the country is this: Lambeau Field, the Packers home stadium, is run entirely by volunteers. With nearly 73 thousand seats, it’s the third highest capacity stadium in the NFL. Yet all of the janitorial staff and concessions workers are all volunteers. And, before every game, its volunteers who shovel the snow off the stadium.
Last winter, Green Bay saw seven feet of snow. If it were not for the dedication of the fans, the games would not have continued.
Special thanks to packers.com for providing stadium and team history information and the National Weather Service for the weather data.
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