From the sound of it, based on a visit there recently, 75 percent of males between the ages of 60 and 90 who live in Wisconsin were present in Green Bay in December of 1967 when the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys in the “Ice Bowl.”
I was there – really, I was – sitting alongside my father, midway up the section of end zone seats where Bart Starr followed Jerry Kramer across the goal line for the winning touchdown in 13-below-zero temperatures. Or was it 17 below? Whatever it was, it preceded talk of “wind chill;” so you know it was darned cold!
Dad and I sat in sleeping bags up to our armpits. But when Jerry moved the Cowboys’ Jethro Pugh out of the way for Bart to slip across the goal line, we rose and freed our arms and clapped along with 120,000 other gloved hands, creating a rumble more than an applause. A great memory.
I suspect that the leadership of the National Football League awoke that cold morning in late 1967 with thoughts of frostbitten fans and media backlash about the stupidity of playing football outdoors in Wisconsin in late December. But it did not take long for that potential public relations disaster to become a special and prized moment in NFL history. Part of the legend that now causes twice the number of people to claim attendance at the event than could fit in Lambeau Field today, and three times what the stadium held in 1967.
Things don’t have to be perfect to create great, lasting memories in sports. In fact, it’s often events where things “go wrong” that we end up remembering best and cherishing most. And if handled adroitly in school sports, these can provide the best of the countless teachable moments that course through the venues of educational athletics.