Packers Nation in Point and Afar
I wear my Packers shirt like a flag. A declaration of allegiance and loyalty. An unspoken understanding among the vast International community that is Packers Nation–a community stretching far and wide, infiltrating households in some of the most remote areas of the world, injecting passion and pride into each. We’re everywhere.
You run into a former Wisconsinite sporting a Green Bay T at Trafalgar Square in London. He offers that his brother-in-law may have some available tickets in December. You spot a Wisconsin native at the Mohacs Festival in southern Hungary. He moved to Texas 25 years ago but still reps the Pack. There’s the guy in the Czech Republic rockin’ the G on the hat. You give him the handshake half-hug and keep moving; no speech required. You do this no matter who he is. Or she. Packers Nation doesn’t discriminate based on gender, ethnicity or any of the various monstrosities dividing the rest of humanity. It is borderless.
This Nation, this understanding, exists on a level much more fundamental, one infinitely more powerful than the casual street interaction: it exists within the family. The deepest, most bitter divisions are reconciled through the simple act of turning on the Packers game, sitting down and getting loud. Generations of dysfunctional families who can agree on nothing in everyday life gather around the television on Sunday and cheer their hearts out; cheer until their animosity abandons them, forced out by the interminable collective spirit. United.
This is no accident, no coincidence. It is a spirit. It is engrained in the fabric of the team itself, from the GM right down to the 53rd man on the roster. It is the result of responsible management and consistency, humility and accountability. It is because that 53rd player knows that he is playing for the people that sponsor his team–those who constitute the essence of his community. He’s playing for the waitress who serves him his drinks. He’s playing for the engineer that builds the stadium, the mechanic that keeps him on the road, the hardware manager who sells him his ladder. He is playing for his job, because if he puts himself before the community or threatens to rip this fabric, he will be dismissed. That’s the Packers way. No showboating. No gimmicks. It’s Donald Driver. Mark Tauscher. This spirit is infectious, simply unignorable. It spreads over seas and between cultures–through families, schools and workplaces. It unites the engineer with the migrant farm employee with the data analysis tech. It’s the reason why, when I meet my Pakistani brother Temoor in the shisha café in East London, he dons the Packers hoodie.
Indeed, the world is small, but for the Green and Gold-blooded it is exceptionally so. We understand that it is better to stand united for a cause than foster division. We live and die by Sundays each fall, from the preseason right through to the final snap. We breathe life into our counterparts on the field, care for them as if they were members of our own family. And they are. This realization exists in player and fan alike, manifesting in the colossal effort they put forth every Sunday. Consequentially, our Sundays stretch into January. This season, our Sundays stretch into February.
Lee Bartnik, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in dietetics.