When you think of Wisconsin, what do you think of? Cheese? Cows? Beer? Lake Michigan? Maybe the yooper accent which is quaint sounding but really limited to a small part of the population? What about the Green Bay Packers? I bet a lot of people have this idea that people from Wisconsin are really nice and no one really has much of a problem with them. And that we love cheese (we do). And beer (we do). For the most part, I think that’s true. I doubt, however, that you think about Wisconsin having the worst fans in the world.
I grew up mostly in Wisconsin, having moved here when I was two. My parents grew up in Chicago and they like their Chicago sports. As a result, I like my Chicago sports. I don’t root for the Packers even though they’ve had some good years because my Bears will forever be my favorite team. I don’t root for the Brewers because the Cubs always have next year to look forward to. Then there’s the Bulls and the Hawks. I’ll root for them if I’m watching basketball or, more often, hockey. It’s just how I was raised. You don’t switch teams because loyalty is important.
As you’d expect, living in Wisconsin but being a fan of Illinois sports teams causes a bit of trouble. People can’t seem to accept that there are other teams out there to root for. I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it again about this kind of thing, “Wisconsin sports fans are the worst fans in the world.” They’re downright nasty to anyone who isn’t a fan of their team. Growing up here, I experienced it more than once. I’ve been around family members as they experience it. It makes you feel downright disgusted by the state.
This past weekend, for example, Ellie and I went to German Fest on the Summerfest Fairgrounds in Milwaukee. We had gotten some free tickets for the festival while buying some beer. Personally, I wouldn’t have gone otherwise because I can’t imagine spending $13 per ticket to get inside and pay more for overpriced food and beer or that I have no German heritage and therefore care little about German heritage but that isn’t the point of the story. In the morning, without really putting a lot of thought into it, I put on a Cubs shirt. I’m a Cubs fan and I have a few of them. Maybe I was in a blue shirt kind of mood. It doesn’t matter, really.
“Wisconsin sports fans are the worst fans in the world.”
Twice, while at German Fest (though possibly more and I didn’t notice it), people walked past me and told me that, “The Cubs still suck.” Now, Ellie and I were just wandering along, looking for food. We weren’t shouting a rendition of “Go Cubs Go” nor was I even talking about the Cubs. I was walking along, minding my business and searching for German food.
The first time I heard it, it took my by surprise. I wasn’t expecting it. The second time I heard it, I turned to confront the guy. I asked him what his problem was. He told me the Cubs suck, that was his problem. Then he walked away.
I should point out that when writing this, the Cubs are 15.5 games back from first place which happens to be occupied by the Brewers. The Cubs are in last place in NL Central and 4th to last in the entire MLB. The past two games they played, they lost. In no way, shape, or form are the Cubs any threat to much of anyone now. There’s always next year though…
So when these two men assure me that the Cubs still suck, not only was I angry at their uncalled for taunting, I was also confused as to what they did to justifying a reminder they still suck. I know this, I know they’re not getting better. Hell, I would have been more justified saying that the Brewers still suck, even though they’re in first place. It makes more sense. Then I remembered, Wisconsin fans are the worst fans in the world.
There have been similar instances where people in Wisconsin need to assure me that my team isn’t good and that I should go home to Illinois. None of it is inviting. It’s a sport after all, one that neither of us actually play in professionally. It means nothing to hate my preferences.
You could argue that those men at German Fest were probably drunk. You know what, you might be right. Why does that matter? Because they’re drunk, I should just let it go? Drinking does not excuse your actions or words. You are the worst fans in the world, Wisconsin.
You could also say that I should have thought about where I was going before I put on my shirt in the morning. I mean, downtown Milwaukee, the heart of Brewer country, it’s a big thing to wear a shirt from another team there. I argue that I shouldn’t be the one responsible for what other people say to me. My wardrobe isn’t an invitation for harassment.
Harassment is not a fair thing to do, no matter the circumstances. I paid for my ticket to watch a game just the same as you did so I’m allowed to sit in the stands and enjoy it, just the same as you. If you went to Wrigley or Soldier Field, I’d hold the Cubs and Bears fans there to the same standard.
After all, we all go to games to enjoy them. We don’t have much invested in them other than mutually lifelong cheering and rooting for our players who, inevitably, will let us down in the end. Harassing people because they disagree with you is just wrong. If I’m visiting your team’s stadium for a game, and you’re an ass, I’ll be much less likely to come back because I’ll have had a poor experience. It’s simple and really not a lot to ask.
Wisconsin, please stop being home to the worst fans in the world. Send them to some country that cares about sports which I don’t, like rugby or cricket.