I was a reluctant cheesehead
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
I am not a sports fan. I never have been. Yet, for someone who basically despises sports, it’s amazing how much of my childhood was defined by the Green Bay Packers.
It’s not that my parents are huge Packers fans. Rather, it’s a matter of geography. I grew up an hour south of the Frozen Tundra. Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. In this part of the state, the Packers aren’t just a sports team to cheer on during football season. They permeate every aspect of your existence.
Except for a few blissful months out of the year, the Packers led every newscast — training camp, the pre-season, the regular season, post-season. When it snowed we got to see citizens of Green Bay shoveling out the stadium. Once a week, Wheel of Fortune was pre-empted for the “Mike Holmgren Show,” which then became the “Mike Whatever-his-name-was Show.”
It even seeped into our religion. Our church designed t-shirts with a drawing of Jesus wearing the famous cheese triangle with the words “Cheeseheads for Jesus” on the back. For reasons I cannot currently fathom, I owned one. I hope God forgives me.
Grocery shopping after church, all of the employees were dressed in Packers shirts as the game was broadcast over the sound system. Even on Fridays before the games, employees at the bank were all decked out in green and gold. I often wondered if it was a required dress code. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.
Even I am not completely immune. I owned a Packers t-shirt, just to fit in. And I can’t honestly say that I’ve never put one of those lovely foam triangles on my head. It was during the sixth grade field trip to the Packers Hall of Fame, and it was done in mockery, so I wouldn’t exactly call it “wearing” one.
However, I have worn one made out of yellow construction paper.
I was in third grade when the Packers played in Super Bowl XXII. It was a very exciting time in Wisconsin. So exciting, that our teachers took an afternoon off from the planned curriculum and we made Packers-related art projects.
After all, who cares about education when the Packers are going to the Super Bowl?
We were given little paper football players and cheerleaders to color and hang on a bulletin board. There was one die-hard Cowboys fan in the class who had the nerve to color his player blue and silver. The scandal that was caused is obvious by the fact that I still remember it 16 years later.
We also designed our own pennants, wrapping the end around a stick so we could wave it proudly and cheer with each touchdown.
The piece de resistance, however, was a paper cheesehead. We started with a large triangle that was the top and three strips for the sides. We drew various-sized circles to represent the holes in the cheese, and then we learned how to attach them together so that the triangle was three-dimensional. Punch a couple of holes, tie on some yarn for chin straps and our cheeseheads were done.
I may have actually watched a bit of the Super Bowl that year, wearing my cheesehead and waving my pennant. What can I say? I was young, naïve and caught up in the hysteria. The photo seems to have disappeared, though, so you can’t prove it.