Win, lose and withdrawal

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Sunday, February 6, 2011
— Maybe you fall in the category of, "Oh my God! I'm so nervous and excited I can't even stand myself! Don't tell anyone, but I just tried to scoop some guacamole with the newspaper and read a chip."

Or maybe you're in the group of, "I've been hiding in the closet for three days to avoid reading or hearing the word ‘Super Bowl.' I've only emerged to clip coupons because game time is a great time to go to the store."

Best-case scenario, you fall somewhere in between.

Whatever the case, it's all going to be over tomorrow. Wisconsin is going to either be full of some very happy campers or some very, very grumpy Guses.

Everything looks a little bit brighter in Wisconsin the day after a Packer win.

"The same thing can be said of a sunny day," said Bill Hollingsworth, clinical psychotherapist with Janesville Psychiatric Clinic. "Everything has gone all right. I've won the golf game. I've finished the assignment."

If a regular season win is like a sunny day, a Super Bowl win is a tropical vacation.

It's already been a special season, according to Packer fan Michael Saxer of Janesville. Saxer, whose e-mail handle is saxpac25, was one of a handful of local fans who predicted a Super Bowl championship on the front page of the Gazette on Sept. 12.

"… it has been AWESOME to watch them get to this point," Saxer wrote in an e-mail to the Gazette.

The awesomeness included winning the George Halas NFC Championship trophy on "their" field, (You know, that Illinois team) Saxer wrote.

Now, on top of that, the Packers have the chance to bring the Lombardi trophy, "the most celebrated trophy ever, back to the true Titletown U.S.A.," he wrote.

"The intensity will be unbelievable," Saxer wrote.

Drawing the line

Somewhere beyond a healthy amount of screaming at the television and happily wearing green and gold wigs in public is a line that gets crossed.

"Healthy is linear," Hollingsworth said. "It's OK to a point."

But when Packer loyalty—or any other seemingly harmless activity—starts causing damage, then it's crossed the line, Hollingsworth said.

The damage can be at home, at the bank or in the workplace, he said.

If that description is starting to sound like the textbook definition of an addiction, that's because it is, Hollingsworth said. To take it a step farther, he explained a second criterion for defining addiction: loss of control.

"Where it's applied to sports or excessive football mania is when the wife, husband or kids are getting unhappy and things are starting to fail around the house, and you continue to do it anyway," Hollingsworth said.

Normally we think "alcohol" when people start talking about addictions, Hollingsworth said. (Of course, we often think "alcohol" when people start talking about the Packers, he said.)

But televised sports can change a person's mood, just like drinking alcohol, doing drugs, shopping, playing on Facebook or munching junk food, Hollingsworth said. And humans can get addicted to things that change their moods, he said.

"All of these things are mood alterers," he said. "We use them, and we can say, ‘Man, I can get away from my sucky life.'"

Of course, being an over-the-top Packer fan doesn't mean you have an addiction. Cheering on the Pack can be good, old-fashioned fun, Hollingsworth said.

"I don't know where you draw the line," he said. "Does it cause damage? Do you lose control over it? Do you continue to watch, regardless of the fact that your wife is divorcing you?"

The hype

Even if you're not one to "deck your truck out green and gold" like Saxer has, it's not likely you've been able to avoid the excitement and—some might say—hype of this year's Super Bowl.

In a state that loves its pro football team, the media has bent over backwards to cover tonight's game, said former UW-Whitewater head football coach Bob Berezowitz.

In a normal year, a few Wisconsin news outlets send one reporter or videographer each to the Super Bowl a day or two before the game, Berezowitz said. But with the Packers in the contest, every major media outlet sent several representatives to cover the two weeks leading up to the game, he said.

All that media coverage is drawing an "unbelievable" amount of attention to Wisconsin, Berezowitz said.

"But when the governor puts them in his ‘State of the State' speech and talks directly with Packers CEO Mike Murphy right there in the chambers, well, you know it's a big deal," Berezowitz said. "I mean, they made the Capitol dome green and gold."

As professional athletes, the Packers can put the hype into perspective, Berezowitz said. The fans might not be so lucky.

A Super Bowl win is everything, and a loss is a colossal let down, Berezowitz said.

"As far as the national media is concerned, the winner gets all the benefits and rewards," Berezowitz said. "The loser gets forgotten."

Chance of a lifetime

If you want to see something really out of perspective, look at the prices people pay for Super Bowl tickets, Berezowitz said. Even in a tight economy, people have forked over thousands of dollars—out of their savings in some cases—for a seat at the big game, he said.

"They think it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Berezowitz said. "Hopefully it's not."

The 13-year wait since the Packers' last Super Bowl appearance has been long enough for 80-year-old Junie Jones of Janesville.

Like Saxer, Jones in September predicted a Super Bowl trip for the Pack.

Jones can't remember a time when she wasn't a Packer fan.

"Oh yes, honey, we grew up with it," Jones said.

When she was a kid, she remembers having to be quiet while the game was on. As an adult, she makes no such promises.

"I yell a lot," Jones said. "You're not supposed to sit there with your fingers crossed."

On Wednesday, Jones insisted she was not nervous about tonight's game, but her thoughts were with the Packers who landed Tuesday in Dallas-Forth Worth to get ready for the game of their dreams.

"I'm not nervous," she said. "I'm nervous for the players. They must be on top of the world. But not yet."


If you suddenly find yourself after the Super Bowl with some spare time, here are a few suggestions to help ease you through the rest of February.

Depending on how things go today, consider them activities to celebrate a fantastic season or activities to ease the pain.

-- The Donald Driver Foundation is taking submissions for scholarships given to students in Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin. Nominate your favorite student at donalddriverfoundation.com. You'll also find a ton of other donation and volunteer opportunities.

-- You know what? Go ahead and love on television a little more. You have exactly three days to go around quoting the best one-liners from Super Bowl commercials before we all get tired of them. Use your time wisely.

-- How about looking forward to the baseball season? The Kilar family of Whitewater last week missed out on $250,000 from the Pepsi Refresh project to build the proposed Treyton Kilar Field of Dreams. The ballpark would honor the 6-year-old Treyton, who was killed in September in an apparent drunken-driving accident. Find out how you can help by calling Rob Gosh at (262) 527-6382.

-- It's not just the special projects that need support. You'd be amazed how fast you get put to work in a public school classroom. Teachers have two hands and 20 kids that need help reading, practicing spelling words or just playing. You don't need to be a parent to help. Call or e-mail the principal at a school in your neighborhood.

-- You don't like to play with children? Fine. What about dogs? Local shelters always could use a hand. Maybe you could even bring home a new friend. Name him Aaron, if you like. Call the Rock County Humane Society at (608) 752-5622. In Walworth County, call Lakeland Shelter at (262) 723-7297.

-- Organize a committee and stage an intervention at your neighbor's house. Make your message kind but firm: We know the weather's been nasty and it's been hard to pull away from the post-season Packer coverage, but the Super Bowl is over now, and it's time to take down the Christmas decorations.

Last updated: 4:23 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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