Whether it’s Coke vs. Pepsi, Roadrunner vs. Coyote, or Apple vs. Microsoft, longstanding rivalries have always provided a bandwagon that people seem to flock towards.
The NFL is no exception.
Sure, it’s fun to pick a side to cheer for – but secretly, it’s even more fun to pick a team you don’t like, and continually root against them – especially if it’s your spouse’s favorite team.
The Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers proudly boast the longest and most legendary rivalry in the NFL. As of this writing, they have played each other 186 times, and since I know you are all wondering, I’ll let you in on who is currently leading: Chicago! (Take that Packer Backers.) The margin is small, but Chicago currently leads with 92 wins. Green Bay is close behind with 88, and there are 6 ties overall.
Personally, I think rivalries are healthy (for the most part), and I also think that rival teams need each other. Nothing pushes you to your limit more than knowing your reputation is on the line – and most of the time, it’s a very public line!
Besides, most fans that I’ve spoken to seem to agree that this specific rivalry is good-natured, and that they genuinely enjoy the sportsmanship and athletic challenge from the other team.
(Plus, fans from both sides agree to hate the Minnesota Vikings. Need I say more?)
So what’s a couple to do? One roots for the Bears. One roots for the Packers. How do you make it to the Super Bowl with the wedding rings still on your fingers?
1. Silent Indoctrination
If my husband were to be really honest with you, there was a small part of him that believed I would eventually “cross over” and join the Cheeseheads when we were first married.
That only grew once we learned we were moving to Green Bay. If you were to ask him now, I think he knows that is never going to happen. That being said, you can’t help but keep trying…you never know when one of you is going to blink.
This is where silent indoctrination comes in. The opportunity to promote your team, and show support even when a game isn’t on is pretty tempting.
We like to do this with blanket and cup wars.
There is a tradition in our home to try to get our team blankets the most visibility possible. We often will lay blankets across our couches in our basement, so that they are handy for guests.
We have three different Packer-Bear blankets. They actually have Chicago logos on one side and Green Bay on the other. When one of us walks downstairs and sees the opposing team’s logo face up, we promptly (and silently) flip the blanket over and go on with our day. This goes back and forth for the entire season, and really for most of the winter.
Cup wars are pretty simple: When your spouse asks you for a drink (no matter what time of day), you sweetly bring them their drink of choice in your team’s glass.
You immediately get “the look” and then see them fight a split-second battle in their brain of whether or not they really want to be seen drinking from “that team’s glass.” 100% of the time we give in, mostly because we are thirsty and don’t care enough to change the cup.
But then your spouse holds a silent victory…until the next drink request.
2. Let the Children Choose…While Secretly Trying to Brainwash Them
It’s natural to want to have your children root for your own team, who wouldn’t want to pass down a tradition of greatness to the next generation?
When we first got married, our dog Oliver was always automatically a Bears fan. But when kids came along, all bets were off.
Thankfully, we each had family and friends that gave onesies, blankets, burp cloths, and even a cloth diaper cover proudly displaying the signature “G” or “C”. (The Packer diaper cover was given in the hopes that our kids would poop on it.)
Our kids have always been pretty equally decked out.
Our son, Cole, knows the “Go Pack Go!” cheer, and accidentally used it with his Bears-fan grandpa on a Skype conversation recently. After grandpa gently reminded him that “Grandpa cheers for the Bears.”
Cole sat quietly for a moment and then said, “Go Bears!” My husband’s smile faded.
Our children really are too young to care at this point, and to be honest I can’t wait until they do. I’ve had many a threat of the fact that with a couple like us, our children will most likely be Lions fans.
3. Fight Fairly – When You Win, Be Proud. When They Win, Own Up.
It’s fun to trash talk, but deep down, my husband and I both respect a well-earned win.
We still enjoy football for what it is, and if you had to be honest with yourself: you know the rivalry is really what makes it fun! The thrill of victory means nothing when you don’t know the sting of defeat.
When one of our teams does a great job, we recognize it. Yes, there have been awkward nights when Justin has gone to bed mopey and in silence out of frustration due to losing to his wife’s team, but I can’t think of one time either one of us has ever really “lost it” over a Bear-Packer battle.
4. Don’t Talk About It the Next Morning
This is a given. Move on. Talk about the weather. Talk about your Aunt Susie’s awful potato salad from the weekend. Talk about the errands that need to be run that day (like you need to be told to do that).
Talk about how good the other person looks. Just don’t talk about the game. Don’t worry, the media will cover it ad nauseum. So just let them do all the rubbing in for you.
Pretty soon the bruised ego will start to heal, and life will go on as usual…until the next game.
Do you have relationship that includes a sports rivalry? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!
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