Thursday, February 10, 2011

Alex's Column: Packer fanbase is unrivaled

By Alex Conover
Sports Editor

This column isn’t about the Super Bowl; by the time this paper is printed, the winner will already have been long decided.

The Packers may win or lose, but one thing will remain the same: the Packers fanbase will remain one of the best such groups among all of sports.

I get a few chances a year to visit family in northeastern Wisconsin, and it’s always crystal clear when I enter Packer territory. There’s green and gold on company signs, lawn gnomes, cars, garages, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Babies are wearing Packer jumpers, and a hard loss can set a whole town’s attitude back for a while (at least until the next Sunday).

You see, for this area of the country, the Packers are the only show in town. Green Bay is one of the only cities in all of sports to host only one professional franchise. If you’ve never been there, please consider adding it to your sports vacation wish list.

I attended a game this year in late December. While the Vikings struggled all year in their dome that eventually collapsed, we embraced the cool elements and enjoyed watching the Packers dominate the Giants in full winter garb. Instead of clapping, you hear a thunderous wave of “poofs” — from all of the snowmobile gloves slapping together.

And sure, the Packers have been a consistently good team over the last 20 years. But what I think marks a true fanbase is dedication even through tough times. In the 24 seasons from 1968 to 1991, the Packers only had five winning seasons. Each coach they hired was worse than the last, and they kept making bad draft picks. But the fans stuck through the hard times and were rewarded in the mid-1990s with two Super Bowl appearances and a championship. The Packers have sold out every game since 1960, and the waiting list for season tickets has over 78,000 names.

People love the Packers because the team is engrained in their state culture. They are the only team in all of professional sports to be owned by the fans; instead of letting a greedy billionaire call the shots, the stock is instead owned by community members.

There are plenty of other good fans for other teams across the country. But I truly feel that the Green Bay faithful are uniquely dedicated, and they will always cheer for the Packers through thick and thin.

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