Saturday, December 22, 2007

In Praise of Green Bay

Having dissed the city earlier today, I thought I should say a word or two in its favor. But before I do so, let me note that I am a Wisconsin homer--I grew up there, got my Ph.D. there, and taught on the faculty at Madison for a long time.

The thing that prompted me to note Green Bay's core strength is this piece by Dick Meyer that appeared in this morning's Post.

The piece is here:

It begins with:

I went to my last professional football game this month. My son and I braved frigid, remote FedEx Field to see our beloved Chicago Bears, the fallen Super Bowl champions, humiliated 24-16 by the struggling Washington Redskins. It wasn't the depth of our despair that will keep us away from football stadiums for good but the depravity of the fans.

I suppose depravity is a strong word. But what better describes drunken adult men, egged on by other grown beer-swillers, belly-shouting the most spectacular obscenities imaginable as they stand next to a 13-year-old boy? Every play was a competition to produce a more vile insult or a different suggestion about which Bear body part might be stuffed up which orifice.

As it happens, during my many years in Wisconsin, I was only able to obtain tickets to one Green Bay Packers game--a game against the Bears that took place in November 1989 (I remember the year because my wife was pregnant with our two girls). The Bears were very good at that time, and had long been the Packer's arch-rival. Green Bay fans are fiercely loyal to their team, and yet, I saw none of the behavior Meyer described from his experience at FedEx field. People in the stands were unfailingly polite. I should mention that Wisconsin had a pretty strong drinking culture--when I was a kid growing up there, I thought the three leading beverages must be milk, beer and Old Fashioneds. Yet I don't recall any obnoxious, loudmouthed drunks at the game.

Which brings me to the principal point--people in Wisconsin, and so far as I can tell, throughout Wisconsin, are friendly, modest and polite. Minnesota is this way too (Garrison Keillor pretty much nails the culture). I kind of miss that.


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