Paynesville Press - September 4, 2002

Community Perspective

Being a Packer fan in Vikingland

By Alisa Hackl-Weiss

It's my favorite time of year. Names like Lombardi, Horning, Starr, and Favre start to fill my ears. One can almost smell the brats cooking, hear the beer cans popping, and see the ice on the Frozen Tundra!

Oh, wait, did I lose some of you? ...Maybe you can relate to the smell of freshly glued-down Astroturf.

OK, OK, I am not trying to create any enemies, just tossing some friendly barbs. I have noticed that friendly verbal wars are commonplace between Viking and Packer fans.

Having lived in Minnesota now for two years, I can honestly say it has been a pleasure. The people are wonderful. Winter, spring, and summer! Then there is football season.

Having lived in Wisconsin all of my life (prior to moving to Minnesota), I couldn't believe that anyone could be anything but a Green Bay Packer fan.

A Wisconsinite's first words are "Go Pack!"

My first realization that I was in Viking country was my first visit to a local establishment. Walls and walls of Viking support and memorabilia let me know that the Pack wasn't idolized here. I was in a new place, and there were a new set of rules.

First, screaming WooHoo when the Pack scores, does not bring high-fives all around.

Second, wearing green and gold anytime during the football season brings unwanted stares and sighs of disgust.

And lastly, in Minnesota, Cheese is something you eat, NOT wear on your head.

I do believe that many Viking fans are eager to talk to me. I get numerous questions like: "What IS a Packer anyway?"; "How can you be SO supportive of Brett Favre?"; and "Why do you think it's so COOL to wear a cheese hat?"

To which I respond: "What's it like to never have won a Superbowl?" Usually that question ends the conversation.

Spending time as a Packer fan in Minnesota, which makes me a minority, it is not easy to talk football and what's happening with the Packers. The "other" teams' fans are never interested in the Packers' victories or great performances by players in green and gold.

Unless we are talking about the new breed of fans. This group of fans has apparently existed for years; however, I have never encountered them before. These are the people who cheer for the Packers only on days when the Packers are playing the Vikings. If I were to meet fans like this in Wisconsin, I would not consider them true allies, but in Minnesota I have been forced to take whatever support I can muster.

Living in Minnesota, I am clearly labeled as an "implanted" Packer fan from Wisconsin. When I visit Wisconsin, where border ties are considered very clear, they are not sure whether I am still a Packer fan or a traitor.

It always amazes me how quickly we can turn on our own.

During my frequent visits to Wisconsin I'm often faced with the awkward question, "You live in Minnesota now, huh? So are you a Viking fan now?" Of course, I am not!

However, it is easy for me to call a lot of Viking fans as my friends, something that never seemed possible before!

And, as family and friends continually come to visit, they often ask "Hey, will you be having a Packer party on Sunday?" I have to laugh, first telling them it probably would not be a party unless the Pack were playing the Vikes. In which case, we could all sit around and talk of how the Bears STILL suck.

On those Sunday afternoons when the St. Croix River becomes a symbolic line of scrimmage, I never let my feelings of hometown pride sway. I hold my own. I'm a Packer fan through and through.

Lombardi would be proud.

Hackl-Weiss has lived in Paynesville for two years and married a fellow Packers fan this summer.

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