More than just a team

A state examiner will decide the future of UW-Eau Claire’s proposed almost $1 million Chippewa River bank stabilization project on campus in late fall. The state’s Department of Administration will hold a hearing in October or November, with the examiner’s decision coming possibly a few months later.

Story by Tyler Hart

Pretend for a moment that you’re an alien from the planet Xeron-IV and your spaceship has just crash-landed on Earth.

Also, pretend your native species has had no exposure to the idea of  ‘sports’. You emerge slowly from the wreckage to find yourself in a jungle of metallic boxes, surrounded by savages with painted faces and large yellow hats.

They’re gathered around small fires, cooking meat and drinking a transparent brown liquid. Off in the distance looms some sort of battlefield labeled with strange markings: “Lambeau Field.”

I don’t know about you, but my first instinct would be to fry these strange creatures with my laser gun.

However, I’m not an alien, and I understand the concept of football and tailgating, so I was as devastated as any other true Wisconsinite when the Packers lost to the Giants in their first playoff game.

Now I’m no sports fanatic, but, like many others, I was raised in a house where the Packers are more than just a football team. They’re an important aspect of life, a reason for friends and family to come together and consume copious amounts of meat and sodium with no regard for health or comfort.

But what makes us want to do this? What is so appealing about letting oneself get anxious and bloated all on the same occasion?

I believe it’s the amount of raw emotion that can be found in any group of true fans.

For example, my father is a peaceful man. But when Jermichael Finley drops a pass after it hits him in his hands, my dad yells at the TV so loudly that my dog gets up and spins in circles until the situation cools down.

When it comes to the Packers, we are relieved of our ordinary social duties. The amount of unsuppressed emotion we are able to express during Packer games can be found nowhere else in our everyday lives.

When I go to the games, I’m surrounded by hostility and vulgarity, but all of it is directed towards the opponent. I’m sharing the experience with 73,000 like-minded people, and that sharing of emotion is what makes the whole experience of being a fan worthwhile.

Long bathroom lines, five-dollar hot dogs, and gut-wrenching losses are just a part of the experience.

Think again about how ridiculous we would look to that alien from Xeron-IV. Our actions would seem completely unnecessary, even foolish.

But that alien doesn’t know about the importance of football to people from Wisconsin. That alien doesn’t understand that the Packers are more than just a football team; they’re the one piece of common ground residents of this fine state can share with each other.

We may be strangers to each other almost every other day of the year, but on game day, we’re family. So if an alien happens to crash-land next to your car in the Lambeau Field parking lot, go ahead and give it a cheeseburger.