On the Hunt for Joy Challenge — Say Cheese(head)!
Growing up, I was terrible at sports. I didn’t even want to know about sports, I only wanted to read all the books in the world and make art. But when I was a kid we only had one TV, and on the weekend, my dad was going to tune in to football, so I picked up some of the basics by osmosis.
I was also terrible at teamwork in the classroom. I just wanted to be left alone to do my projects in peace, rather than having to go through the charade of building consensus with a team of other students (who didn’t even care about getting an A!), and then ending up doing all the work myself anyway.
But when I became a teacher, I began to see the value of those team-building activities in the classroom, and even of regular sports! Learning to get along with other people is, I think, one of the hardest things you can learn, much harder than grammar or algebra.
In our school, one of the things that introduced team spirit, was that teachers were occasionally allowed to wear blue jeans to school if they wore some kind of team shirt as well. So my husband bought me a Green Bay Packers jersey. Because even though I have lived in Texas most of my life, I wasn’t born here, and one of the few relics of my Northern childhood is an affection for the Green Bay Packers!
On the one hand, wearing a numbered jersey has always seemed silly to me. If I wear a Dallas Cowboys jersey with Zeke Elliott’s number 21, am I somehow tricking onlookers into thinking that a middle-aged woman is in good enough shape to run down the football field? Or if enough of us wear them, will we confuse the opposing team into thinking there are so many Zeke Elliotts in the crowd that the ball could be anywhere? Or do the gods of football count up all the jerseys being worn and award the win to the team that is best represented?
But teachers wearing jerseys to school is a genius idea. There are so few male teachers at the elementary level; I think the boy students feel like there are huge areas of their lives that are left out of their school days. When we teachers wore jerseys, it was an immediate ice breaker. Boys who had never talked much in class came up wanting to know why on earth I was a Packer-backer, and I had ready answers — Green Bay has a great history as one of the oldest NFL teams and winner of the first Super Bowl, and it is the only community-owned team! Plus, since Green Bay is in Wisconsin, the Dairy State, their fans are known as Cheeseheads, and you have to love people that will sit in the cold with giant chunks of foam rubber cheese on their heads.
For the rest of the season, we had something to discuss on Fridays before the games, and on Monday mornings afterward. They would bring me the Packers cards that turned up in their packs of trading cards, or even bring me action figures.
I am no longer teaching, but being a loyal team fan has also given me things to talk about with my nephew, and great-nephew. And if you had told me when I was a kid that I would spend Sunday afternoons watching football willingly, while texting about the game to my sister! (who has adopted our grandpa’s favorite team, and the Packers’ biggest rival, the Bears) I would never have believed it.
So for this week’s Hunt for Joy Challenge, I went out right before the big game on Sunday night, and posed with some of my favorite Cheesehead possessions.
This wooden football plaque from the 1960s is one of my favorite things. No hyperbole here. Just a little map showing where Green Bay is, and a banner that says, “We like it here.”
In case you’re wondering, the football gods were not impressed by my collection, and Green Bay lost their game. But I had fun digging out my memorabilia and thinking of the connections I have built through fandom. 🙂
On the Hunt for Joy Challenge is posted each Wednesday, and you can see the upcoming themes here!