The Game Day Experience
The Packers return to Lambeau Field today, but before we get to game time, let's take a look back at last week's game (and all road games, really) with a guest post from a high school buddy of mine: Aaron Reiskytl. Aaron and I go way back, and if I were to make a list of die hard Packers fans that I know, he'd be near the op of the list. Aaron was lucky enough to follow the Packers to Baltimore last week, so I'll let him take it from here.
Going to a Packers game is always exciting! It’s also difficult to justify given the cost on the secondhand market (the way yours truly gets tickets). So I decided to make a chart comparing watching from home vs. the live game. I will use last Sunday as my example, as I was lucky enough to see the Packers vs. the Ravens. Here goes…
THE PREGAME EXPERIENCE
Let’s face it, watching from home is nice and convenient, but walking by thousands of people tailgating really gets you ready for some football! Pregame is awesome in person! Everyone is excited, charcoal fills the air, music is playing, footballs are being thrown, and of course the inevitable pregame jesting takes places between fans. However, I have found pregame taunting to be much lighter and fun, as opposed to post-game when it tends to be more hurtful or bitter. Pre-game is pure excitement as both teams feel confident! The feeling is evident and the energy is infectious. (Of my six roads games, Tennessee has been the most accommodating so far.) This may be the best feature of any football game.
Advantage: live game
THE BIG PLAY
Everyone loves the deep pass or a breakaway run, but watching from the stands is very different. For example, when Rodgers hit Jordy for that 64 yard bomb I had a few advantages. First, having watched the Packers frequently (as long as I can remember), I immediately recognized the play action roll-out Rodgers was running. Because I was at the game I (somewhat instinctively) looked down field as soon as Rodgers rolled out. I glanced down field and saw Jordy already ahead of the Ravens' defenders. (In the moment I actually yelled, “he’s open.”) Sure enough, the next moment Rodgers unleashed a perfect toss for the TD. I know it seems like a minor detail, but seeing the entire play develop in front of you is very different from only following the movement of the football. I could see the potential, before Rodgers released the ball! You can’t see that from home. On a few big runs by Lacy, I could immediately identify why he cut certain directions, as opposed to not knowing when some defenders may enter the camera’s viewpoint.
Advantage: live game
THE “SMALL” PLAY
Yes, watching big plays is great, but even sitting in a decent club level seat, the vantage point is much farther away than on TV. Every time there is a close play for a first down or short gain, very little is actually perceivable from the stands. Often I had no idea what type of yardage was gained. I have learned to watch for the official who spots the ball from the sideline to see how many yards are gained. However, watching a ref mark the placement of the ball isn’t as much fun as seeing where the ball ended up.
THE QUESTIONALBLE CALL
Whether it’s a bad flag or a strange rule, watching on TV usually has the answers. Replays are unbiased on TV. At the game, the home team decides what gets replayed. This means many questionable calls at the game, don’t feel very questionable. The fan has no way to see if a call was close or just a phantom. For example, the punt block. When the packers blocked the punt, Kuhn touched it, (but kindly handed the home team a free gift) and I was clueless to what just happened. I didn’t understand that specific rule, even as an avid football fan. The ref’s explanation was brief. At the stadium, the ref is the only explanation you get, if he even gives you an explanation. My only alternative was to turn to the others around me. Let’s just say they weren’t exactly Mike Pereira.
Yes, winning is always enjoyable. But, walking out of an away stadium hearing “GO PACK GO” chants is something you can’t really explain. It’s just sweet! Now, with that being said, I have also been to some duds. I got to watch Green Bay flop against Kansas City during their 15-1 season in 2011. (Yes, I saw their only loss of that regular season. Thanks for reminding me). Walking out of there was brutal. Chief’s fans felt like they had just won the Super Bowl, since they weren’t going to the playoffs.
Conclusion: There is no easy answer. For the avid Packer fan, seeing a game in Lambeau is terrific! Seeing the team get a win anywhere is amazing. I have discovered the away games tend to be cheaper, hence, why I have been to more away games than home games. For some people the pros will not exceed the Cons. Still, I would recommend going to at least one game to see how you like it. Really, it’s just nice to be a fan of a good Packer squad!