A Sports Fan's Gift Guide
what to get for that Packer (or Badger or Buck or Brewer) Backer on your Christmas list
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, and you still may find yourself wondering what Christmas gift to purchase for the sports-loving person in your life. Perhaps I can help, with the first-ever Athletic Aesthetic Holiday Shopping Guide.
Let’s start with the most likely situation: You are the spouse, significant other, parent, or child of a Packers fan. Such fans tend to be omnipresent in Wisconsin, and they probably have plenty of Packers paraphernalia in their possession. This fandom stretches across genders and generations, so a basic cap or shirt may be redundant.
The way the Green and Gold are playing this season, fans watching at home might need a pick-me-up, and no offensive scheme deficiencies can interfere with a refreshing brew and/or a delicious brat.
The traditional Packers fan holy grail has been Lambeau Field season tickets. However, the decades-long waiting list is reason enough to avoid this gift: “Hey, I got you something you may never get to use in your lifetime. Merry Christmas!” In addition, high season ticket prices, single-game tickets being fairly available on the likes of StubHub, and the cumbersome (and occasionally drunkenly dangerous) game-day experience have taken the sheen off that grail.
I will go in a different direction for your beloved Packer Backer: Buy them a case of their favorite beer, or if they’re not a beer drinker (or of legal age) perhaps a pack of Wisconsin bratwurst. The way the Green and Gold are playing this season, fans watching at home might need a pick-me-up, and no offensive scheme deficiencies can interfere with a refreshing brew and/or a delicious brat. Favorite food and drink on a comfortable couch in front of a big-screen TV makes for ideal football watching, and this gift is just unexpected enough to be a standout among other presents.
As attending a modern NFL game gets more overwrought, I find that other sports are perhaps best experienced with an “experience.” If you have a Badger basketball or Bucks fan in the house, get ’em a couple of tickets to a game. They’re relatively inexpensive, and each team features plenty of up-and-coming talent. The Badger fan on your list will get to feel the Kohl Center home-court advantage, while if you get the Bucks tickets this year, you’ll be giving your loved one an opportunity I’m going to give myself: A chance to see a game during the final season of the Bradley Center (and perhaps have an easier time acquiring Bucks tickets before potential scarcity next year in their new arena).
If you wanna dig a little deeper in your bank account while avoiding something as overwhelming and budget-busting as the Super Bowl, look to two other championships coming soon to the Twin Cities: the NCAA men’s hockey Frozen Four at the Xcel Energy Center this April, and/or the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four the following April at U.S. Bank Stadium (tickets go on sale a little down the road). Your beloved will get plenty of hockey and basketball, they’ll watch college kids going all-out for a title … and maybe they’ll see their favorite team in these events.
Maybe you’re looking for a timely – yet local – sports-themed holiday present. If so, give the gift of curling. The Winter Olympics are this February, and they serve as a quadrennial reminder of assorted winter sports, including some with a notable following in the Chippewa Valley: Team USA has had a good number of Upper Midwestern curlers. I tried curling once at the Eau Claire Curling Club – get your loved one a membership, and I know they’ll like it. Plus, they can be the go-to curling explainer to everyone else watching the Olympics on TV.
You need to shop for a baseball fan? Buy them a radio. Many households no longer have stand-alone radios, and one might forget that a radio is where one would hear Bob Uecker calling Brewers baseball. Not only is listening to Ueck the best way to hear America’s Pastime, but considering his age (he turns 84 before Opening Day) we only have so many years left to savor his calls. Go old-school and find a transistor radio so that baseball fan of yours will truly savor the warm-weather months in Wisconsin.
What does this sports fan want for Christmas? The usual suspects still apply: a ’70s-era Houston Astros tequila sunrise jersey, full mini-stadium model collections, and the ever-elusive first Vikings Super Bowl title – and if you ask Santa for the latter every year for three-plus decades, he does eventually get you want you want, right?