Sports

Packer fans, and obsession, are spreading to all corners of the globe

Coconutz Packer fans.jpg

Credit: Coconutz Sports Bar & Grill Facebook site
Packer fans, adorning customary cheeseheads, hanging out at Coconutz Sports Bar & Grill in Costa Rica.

Say you find yourself in Port Douglas, Australia, or Bogotá, Colombia, or Bang Lamung, Thailand this Sunday, and you really, really want to watch the Green Bay Packers game with some fellow Packer backers. No problem, just go to the web site: packerseverywhere.com.

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One of the officially sanctioned Packer Bars in Canada is the Dog House in Sudbury, Ontario, run by David Duvall. If you go there to see a game, you’ll see Packer paraphernalia all over the walls, and perhaps meet Dave, who will likely greet you with a “Go, Pack, Go.”

If the Dog House isn’t exactly your style, and you’re in Ontario on Sunday, fret not, said Duvall.

“There are a few bars in the Sudbury area that are Packer Backers. In fact, it’s got quite a following, the Packers do.”

This sort of makes sense; Green Bay isn’t too far from Ontario. (Duvall said there are also lots of Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, and Minnesota Vikings fans in Ontario, teams from other not-too-far northern US cities.)

But how do you explain a Packer bar in Costa Rica?

“I’m the only Packer bar south of Mexico,” said Dan Kososki, owner of the Coconutz Sports Bar & Grill in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Kososki is originally from Appleton, Wisconsin. He said when he moved to Costa Rica, the Packers came with him.  

“It’s not just a fan base, it’s a way of life. I have a big Green Bay Packer tattoo on my chest, right above my heart.”  

Kososki is not unusual in his Packer obsession. The internet is loaded with people professing their love for the Packers, and also plenty of people mocking them for it. [Note: This link has some language not approporiate for all audiences.]

Besides fulfilling his mission of proselytizing the Pack in Central America, Kososki quickly learned that opening a Packer bar there was also a shrewd business move.

“I can seat 300,” said Kososki. “And I’m packed every Sunday.”

That also includes fans — mostly Americans and Canadians — of other teams as well, but Kososki said his fellow Cheeseheads dominate the crowd.

Credit: David Margolis
David Margolis, with daughter Melissa, has attended two of the coldest games in NFL history at Lambeau Field.
So, what exactly is going on here? To try and understand this globalized Packer nation, I called the most dedicated fan I know — a man who, by most accounts, has an unhealthy Packer obsession — my cousin David Margolis. David is a pediatric oncologist in Milwaukee, but not on fall Sundays.

“Our call schedule here at our hospital is built around the Packers schedule,” he explained.

David offered a few theories as to why the Packers are so beloved worldwide. First, he said, people love a winner.

“Internationally, people recognize excellence, and Packer football is the definition of NFL excellence.”

The Packers have won 13 NFL Championships, dating back to the pre-Super Bowl era, more than any other team.

(In full disclosure, I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area and a fan of the 49ers, a team with five Super Bowl victories, one more than the Packers. My 49er affiliation often pits me against many family members including another cousin, Jeff, who named his dog "Lambeau" and his daughter Bret, possibly after former Packers quarterback Brett Favre. Jeff began denying any connection after Brett Favre left the Packers on poor terms.)

Second, David thinks people abroad are sold on the mythology of the frozen tundra and being the last professional sports team located in small town America.  

“Lambeau Field is the skyline of Green Bay, Wisconsin. And there’s nothing better in the world than a Packer game at Lambeau Field.”

David is taking his two daughters, Rachel and Melissa, and his brother Jeff to the game on Sunday, where it could be 19 below zero and the wind chill could drop to -51 degrees Fahrenheit. It could break the record for the coldest game in NFL history. Have fun, guys.

My next call was to a poet from Wisconsin who has lived in Chile since 1991, Todd Temkin. Temkin helped get the Chilean seaport of Valparaiso named a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

Temkin said that the World Heritage protection program is no longer just about the preservation of tangible sites, such as buildings and churches, but is also about preserving intangible heritage.

“And I do think, in many ways, the Packers do represent a certain intangible heritage, just the way they are woven into the fabric of everyday life of people from the state of Wisconsin, the sense of identity that people have,” said Temkin. “It’s a bit of a reach, but…”

Not completely: The Wisconsin Historical Society recently released a book about the Packers.        

  • packer fan in Chile (1).JPG

    Credit: Todd Temkin
    Wisconsin native Todd Temkin is a poet and newspaper columnist in Chile. He occasionally slips in references in his writing to the Green Bay Packers.
  • Jason in 49ers hat2.jpg

    Credit: Jason Margolis
    The World's Jason Margolis, a life-long 49ers fan, walking to the train in Boston Friday morning where the wind chill reached -26 Fahrenheit. Temperatures on Sunday in Green Bay could be significantly colder.

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