Yesterday (Sunday 8th January), the Green Bay Packers (the Packers) beat the New York Giants 38-13 in the National Football Conference (NFC) wild-card playoffs. They will now play the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional playoff in Dallas. Why am I blogging about this, when I barely (if ever) mention American Football on my blog? It is because I lived in Wisconsin for 6 years (1995-2001) and am a big fan of not just the Packers but, in particular, their ownership model.
I have been to Green Bay, it is a city of just over 100,000 people at the southern tip of Door Peninsula, which sticks out into Lake Michigan.Its population is the third largest in Wisconsin, after Milwaukee and Madison. I went to Green Bay in the summer of 1996 on my way to spend a week visiting the beautiful Door Peninsula. However, I have sadly never been to see a Packers’ game, nor have I even seen Lambeau Field in real life.
For the 6 years that I lived in Wisconsin I was based in Williams Bay, home of the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory. This is quite a way away from Green Bay, as you can see from the map below. Sadly, this one trip to Door Peninsula was the only time I made it up to the northern parts of Wisconsin. My plans to visit Lake Superior never materialised, but hopefully one day I will get there.
The Packers use Lambeau Field to their advantage, or I should say that they use the weather at Lambeau Field to their advantage. In December and January it can often be -10C or colder during a game at Lambeau Field, which for teams from southern parts of the US presents a significant challenge. I am not sure what the temperature was during yesterday’s game against the New York Giants, but playing at Lambeau Field presents more or an advantage to the Packers than just playing in front of a home crowd. Packers fans pray for cold weather, particularly if they are up against a team from the balmier southern states.
Go Pack(ers) Go
Living in Williams Bay, I found that the local population seemed to be split 50/50 between Packers fans and Chicago Bears fans. I don’t think this had anything to do with the University of Chicago’s observatory being in Williams Bay, but more to do with Williams Bay being geographically slightly closer to Chicago than it is to Green Bay. So, why did I decide to support the Packers, and not the Bears?
One reason was that I was living in Wisconsin, so gravitated towards the only Wisconsin-based American Football team. But, the main reason was the Packers’ unique business model. It is the only franchise in the NFL (American football league) which is owned by the community and is run as a non-profit organisation. Yes, you read that correctly, the Packers is owned by the community, not by some rich individual or conglomerate. With so much money in professional sport these days, and so many owners only buying a team or franchise to make money, it is refreshing to see a successful professional sports team like the Packers thrive using an entirely different model.
Individuals can buy shares in the Packers, but those shares are sold for the same money for which they are bought. No individual can make a profit from owning Packers shares. You can read more about this refreshing business model here.
Next up for the Packers is an away match against the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Playoff, which will not be an easy game. I will be following the game, and should they win they will go on to compete in the Conference Championship. Win that, and they will be in the Super Bowl, which they have won four times, including the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967 under legendary coach Vince Lombardi. GO PACK GO!!