Looking to Score

If you’ve never been to a major sporting event, put it on your bucket list, now. Even better, put Lambeau Field on your bucket list.

It had been several years since I had been to a Packer game and this year, I was able to purchase the coveted tickets through my UW Alumni Association. But would it be worth the money?

As we settled in our seats, I realized I had forgotten about the energy, the excitement and the unity of the crowd experience. Watching a major sporting event on television at home is convenient but it doesn’t come close to how a game makes you feel, like being there in person does. The adrenaline pumps harder and puts you on edge much more, when you’re physically at the game. You’re more invested, there’s no walking away when things go wrong.

After the National Anthem, there was a military flyover, in honor of Veteran’s Day. I’ve always loved how the fierce rumble of the jets, flying by, saturate every fiber of your soul. I get goosebumps and can’t even describe it.

Game time, and so it begins. The energy and roar of the crowd is deafening. Total strangers smile and high-five each other after each play. We laugh, we cheer, we bond. We’re in this together, for better or worse.

First quarter, 7-7. Game on!

Halftime and a score of 14-10 in favor of the Packers. It is beginning to snow heavily. It is a thing of beauty, the snow swirling around the stadium and the brightness of the lights amplifying the magnitude of the big, chunky flakes. The snowflakes catch in my eyelashes and it makes me smile. A game and the elements, baby!

Halftime show at Lambeau, no famous singers nor popular bands. Just an entertaining skydiving show for everyday people. And it did not disappoint. One skydiver face plants upon landing, and another even made the news by coming in hot and hitting a wall in the end zone. What could be better?

In the skydiving video I’ve linked, you can hear a woman shrieking in an annoying voice in the background. She did this the whole game and I was getting incredibly irritated by her. Finally, I turned around to glare at her and give her “the eye.” Oh boy, “shrieking lady” turned out to be a near 80-year-old drunken grandma. Oh gosh grandma, have fun, party on.

Third quarter and it’s 24-10. Come on guys, lets run up the score.

Fourth quarter, four seconds left, the score is 24-16 in favor of the Packers. If Carolina scores here and gets a conversion, the game could be a tie! After two frustrating penalties on the Packers, Carolina is on the Packers 2-yard line, and it’s 4th down. The crowd’s roar is deafening, my throat is raw from screaming.

Let’s get loud Lambeau! The ball is snapped, Carolina is stopped, denied! But wait, a review. Is it a touchdown or isn’t it? Ugh! Moments later, it is confirmed, Packers win! The crowd roars, dances and more high-fives with strangers.

And then it was time for the long drive home in the snow. A stop in the bathroom before leaving, brought me to an unforgettable moment of my Lambeau experience. A young, 30-something woman was in the bathroom with her fancy-dress boots removed, assessing her terribly bright red, severely frost-nipped feet. You could tell it was painful. She was virtually in tears. I shook my head knowing exactly how she felt, due to a moment of stupidity in my own past. I could feel her anguish and agony.

I dug my handwarmers out of my gloves and handed them to her, as she gratefully tucked them under her toes in her thin ballerina-type ankle socks. I then disappeared back to the concourse. I wondered how miserable that game must have been for her, while the rest of us enjoyed the game and cheered our team on.

There are some things to be learned from attending major sporting events. Cliché though they may be. One is that when the enemy fights hard and pushes us to our limits, that is when we stand firm, resist and hold fast as a team. Maybe, just maybe we’ll pull off a win. If not, we’ll certainly learn from the experience and be better for it next time.

Another is to be prepared – just like the Boy Scouts. Whether it is an NFL player on the field or a young woman with frozen feet in a bathroom, if you’re not prepared, you pay the price. Sometimes we learn better from the pain of our stupidity and that experience teaches us not to be caught off guard again.

All I can say is that it’s a magnificent feeling when we win, and while I know it’s not possible, I wish we could win all the time.