Clare, my mom, my brother-in-law Paul, and I spent Christmas afternoon at a Green Bay Packer football game. I’ve been to several preseason games over the years, but I can’t remember if I’ve ever been to one during the regular season. It was Clare’s first game ever. Out of 77,000 people in attendance, Clare and I were two out of about five fans to wear COVID masks. The Packer staff was masked, but the fans were not. The guy sitting next to me wore one. Talking briefly to him, I found out he wasn’t from town, but came to the game from Seattle.
In my four-plus hours at the game, I did not see one angry fan or one nasty incident. Paul, a season ticket holder, thought there was less drinking than at most late afternoon games. A lot of folks may have eased up on the alcohol because it was Christmas.
I learned the five unofficial rules of Packer game etiquette. They are 1) be quiet when the Packers are on offense, 2) be noisy with the Packers on defense, 3) be kind to fans rooting for the other team (i.e., make our guests’ experience at the Mecca of football a good one), 4) never leave until the game is over (regardless of the score), and 5) do not boo an individual Packer player.
Lambeau Field no longer accepts paper tickets. It is only tickets on a phone. I still don’t own a cell phone, so had I wanted to go by myself, I wouldn’t have been able to get in. The phone tickets are different from anything I’ve ever seen. They are alive and keep moving, so a screenshot does not work. I think it is to confound scalpers who try to sell fake tickets online. Also no place in the stadium accepts cash. It is credit/debit cards only. There no longer are vendors in the stands, but I’m not sure whether that is to curb excessive drinking or to combat the pandemic.
The neighborhood surrounding Lambeau Field is a blend of commercial and residential. During Packer games, most businesses close because they make more money renting out parking spaces in their parking lot than selling gasoline or coffee. Most single family homes also rent out parking, filling their driveways and their front yards with the cars of people going to the game. On the streets nearest the stadium, it is the yards without cars parked in them that look out of place. Paul told me that most people who temporarily convert their yards into parking lots during the games make enough money to pay most, if not all, of their property taxes.
The Packers beat the Cleveland Browns with a game-saving interception. Even though Cleveland was moving down the field for a winning field goal, I sensed most people in the stands knew their team would somehow win. The Green Bay Packers don’t lose at home.