Archive

Confessions

This evening, the sportsfan takes a break from graduate school (and the first week of his new internship) to digest some career advice from the top, halfway around the world. (And also some Zachary’s Chicago Pizza. Not quite as good as Giordano’s, but it’ll do.)

Background: David Shoemaker is the chief executive officer for NBA China, headquartered in Beijing. He graciously agreed to speak with me this past Tuesday evening (PDT) about his career, for an informational interview I conducted in coordination with my studies per the sport management master’s program at the University of San Francisco and my own career goals. With his blessing, I am posting my thank-you letter here.

Dear Mr. Shoemaker,

Did you make a mistake today? I wouldn’t be surprised if you did, but I sure would be if you ever make it again. I have been thinking about my past mistakes since we spoke. Perhaps my biggest mistake has been to not make more of them. If I had sought more during my undergraduate education–more advice, more chances, more responsibility, more dreams–perhaps I would not have felt the need to spend more money on graduate school. That would be a most terrible mistake to repeat.

Though we seldom spoke directly of it, I felt our conversation revolved around pace. Coming to better understand your pace, both daily and through your career, was a privilege. We also discussed the pace of business: ideas, opportunities, and risks that slow and speed one’s working environment. There is the unprecedented pace of the NBA’s new 365-day approach to marketing. The pace of national, institutional, and individual progression. Even the pace of conversation. Timing is everything. I briefly brought up John Wooden; one thing he said is that there are no big things, only little things, little details. Being on-time, every time. Not pushing yourself a lot more, but a little more every day. Of course the difference between reading words in a book (even one by John Wooden, or Steve Jobs, for that matter) and hearing the voice of a current working executive is paramount.

Actions speak louder than words, and in a conversation one can only make so much noise. But as I progress through my schooling and career beginnings, I will keep your shared wisdom ringing in my ears, or at the very least remember to go swimming, not golfing. Even if I’m not surrounded by Ivy League lawyers, I’ve got to keep busy proving myself, at the moment as an intern, graduate student, and seeker of advice from other leaders in the sports industry. Still, from time to time I’ll keep an eye on the Weibos, RenRen, and other happenings in the second most important NBA market in the world. I can see the recurring blog feature now: “Holy Yao! The Latest in NBA China’s Development”.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Colin Weaver

There were some technical difficulties today, presumably all around the world and definitely in my own laptop. Specifically, said difficulties concerned my ASUS “SmartGesture_Win8_64_VER225” touchpad driver, or whatever. This was not the first time. I was Not in the mood. Technology ultimately prevailed, but has left me exhausted and weak, physically and emotionally, much like yesterday’s NFC Championship game.

So this is not a post, but a repost, indeed a reposting. The following have been the most popular articles on Crossroads:

  1. Confessions of an Economic Sportsfan: I Just Spent 8 Hours, 1/4 of a Bottle of Whiskey, & 5,000 Words On the Greatest Sports Plays of All Time (Part 1 of 2)

    Around midnight of December 18th, I sat back with a fairly comprehensive Bleacher Report article (as they go), my laptop, a bottle of whiskey, a recliner chair, a big screen TV, and a YouTube to investigate what makes the “All Time Classic Plays” just so. Eight hours later, I had many thoughts, maybe even answers.

  2. Confessions of an Economic Sportsfan: I Just Spent 8 Hours, 1/4 of a Bottle of Whiskey, & 5,000 Words On the Greatest Sports Plays of All Time (Part 2 of 2)

    The results of this positively unscientific and whimsical process couldn’t be clearer: it’s a play’s impact on a game’s outcome, and how unusually the players pull it off, that are most likely to set a play apart.

  3. Confessions of an Economic Sportsfan: I Am Going There! NFC Wildcard EXCLUSIVE Preview-49ers at Packers-with Pictures! (Part 1 of 2)

    “Arctic blast”? What kind of s#$% is that? Most times there’s a winter storm, or even a blizzard. This time there’s going to be an “arctic blast”? Hell no. WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE

  4. Early Betting Super Bowl XLVIII: Who Will Win “The Big One”?

    As they were months ago, Seattle and Denver seem to be the heavyweights, but then, so did the 2007 Patriots six years ago.

  5. Home Economics: The Sportsfan’s Cost-Benefit Analysis of Snowshoeing This Chicago Winter

    By assigning probabilities to different outcomes, the expected net benefits of both owning versus renting snowshoes this winter (between January 1st and March 15th) become apparent.

  6. Weighting the Coin: A Theoretical Case for Nomentum

    Forget sports (just for a second, don’t worry) and think about a coin flip. Say it’s a fair coin, and you flip heads two times in a row. Does the coin have momentum? Is the coin more likely to come up heads on the next flip? You’re smart, you know the answer is no.

  7. The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: Winners & Losers of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw

    Who got off easy? Argentina, no question. In addition to being in their element in South America (theoretically), they drew a Bosnia-Herzegovina team playing in its first tournament as its own nation (being formerly part of Yugoslavia), ranked 21st, Nigeria, ranked 36th, and Iran, ranked 45th.

  8. Mike Tomlin, Player Fines, and What the NFL Really Cares About

    The average NFL salary is $2.016 million ($2,015,942), with a median of $0.753 million ($753,229). The average fine ($14,543) is 0.72% of the average salary, and 1.93% of the median salary. For half of all players, the average fine is a harsher punishment than Tomlin’s 1.74% loss.

  9. ESPM Presents: The Search for the Best (& Worst) Contract in Football, LBs

    You should not be surprised to see that as quarterbacks are the most expensive players, the most expensive defenders are those whose job it is to get to the quarterback.

  10. NEWS FLASH: Many of the Best NFL Players Are Pro Bowl Snubs

    Flowers and Talib, 85th and 66th respectively among all cornerbacks, both make the cut with impressive negative grades. Anyone want to bet how many times announcers mention their Pro Bowl inclusion tomorrow in a context affirming their, uh, “quality” play this season?

The final game of the 2013-14 NFL Wildcard Round ended about 46 hours ago. I returned back to Chicago from my day trip to Green Bay about 42 hours ago. That is not enough time for me to process and properly express just How. Freaking. Awesome. going to that game was. But likely there will never be enough time, so here I go.

Road to Lambeau

the view from my apartment’s front door, 9 a.m. 1/5/14

After a plan to leave at 8 a.m, and a contingency plan to leave at 8:30, we left a little after 9, after five Mexicans helped get the car out of the snow. Just don’t ask. Then we were on the road…

four (!) snow plows lead the way north up Lake Shore Drive; slower, but safer?

four (!) snow plows lead the way north up Lake Shore Drive; slower, but safer?

…Where eventually much friendlier road conditions welcomed us in Wisconsin. At least their manifestation of the polar vortex1 didn’t involve roads covered in ice and swirling in snow.

the view after crossing into Wisconsin, realm of Mars Cheese Castle

the view after crossing into Wisconsin, realm of Mars Cheese Castle

We stopped at a Walmart in Sheboygan to change into our battle gear (five upper body layers for me, three for my legs, the thickest wool socks, boots, a gaiter, hat and gloves). Like every other entity (living and otherwise) in the region, the Walmart seemed to be supporting the Packers.

IMG_4331

an entire section devoted to Green Bay Packer slippers

Now ready, Green Bay was on the horizon!

whoot whoot

are we there yet? almost…

And it turned out, I would not be the only 49ers fan at this game! An Alex Smith jersey! Alright!

fans head to the game on S Aneida St

fans head to the game on S Aneida St

And then we were there!

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

After paying a Green Bay homeowner $20 to let us park in their driveway (what all the cool kids do on game days), this was the scene at the gate:

Curly Lambeau wants YOU! to root for the Packers

Curly Lambeau wants YOU! to root for the Packers

Note the open containers in the bottom left corner (small and blurry as they are). They were everywhere. Right before taking this picture two guys shouted out “ANYONE WANT A BEER?”. I would have taken more pictures but doing so required un-gloving my hands, which became unpleasant after five seconds and alarmingly cold after one minute.

Lambeau Field, brought to you by Miller Lite

Lambeau Field, brought to you by Miller Lite

But before I had time to really be cold, this was happening:

national anthem selfie!

national anthem selfie!

And then this:

sdf

first play from scrimmage

AAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHH!

The Atmosphere

Goodness. I’ve written before about the lack of momentum in sports, and coaches’ flawed decision-making, etc. The inefficiencies of the game. Well like most things, it’s one thing to talk about that in the abstract and a whole different thing to believe it on the field. I still do “believe” in numbers on the field, but wow, is it hard. I’m guessing it’s because I know and understand these things as scientific truths, what probability means and how it works, that home field advantage manifests itself by the fans affecting the referees, not the players2, that Aaron Rodgers isn’t more likely to throw for a touchdown on this drive just because he did on the last one3, etc. I know those things are true, scientifically. But damn, the game is something of an art form, too. Having been there, it’s amazing to me that the 49ers won.

It’s LOUD. There is no yellow line on the field indicating a first down, no live aerial view of the defense. Breathe, and your exhaust poofs in front of your face, impairing your vision. There are well-to-do mothers of four, ‘F’-ing soccer moms, screaming they want you dead, along with 70,000 other people, many of whom are drunk, who’ve spent hundreds of dollars and hours of time to see you lose, and every time you succeed, they get angry. Oh, and you’re supposed to play football in a windchill of negative 10. Just another hum-drum road game in Lambeau Field. Duh, of course all that’s going on! It goes on all the time, in pretty much every road game in professional sports. It’s amazing, and easy to forget, just hearing the general roar on television. But it isn’t general. It’s personal. This is Green Bay. This is where the Packers play football, and where they win football.

The 49ers (as well as the Packers) are pros. By and large they were focused, by and large they executed. And they won. And they weren’t the only road team to do so last weekend, joining the Saints and the Chargers. It’s crazy that professional athletes can do that. Imagine doing your job, or public speaking, in that environment. I would probably bail within five minutes. No wonder these guys make millions.

The Fans

I certainly haven’t been around the block in terms of professional sports games, but Packers fans must have a strong case for being the best. From what I could tell, there were two other 49ers fans in our section, one of whom was a few seats down from me wearing a 49ers beanie (like a jack@#%, in my opinion). While refraining from physical violence, nearby fans addressed him as “@#%hat”. And there I was, with my 49ers throw wrapped around my chest, tightly secured underneath two jackets lest it slip out and reveal my true identity.4

Despite my preparation, I had not adequately readied behavior. How many team-unspecific cheers are there? I should have had a ready list. Mostly I used “Focus!”, “Fight!” and just “Go team!”. These were good because even my intensity did not give me away; if it’s particularly important for one team to focus, it usually is for the other team, too. But what was I to do when offered a high-five after a good Packers play? Slap away, of course! In my own way, I was pretty much celebrating the same thing: f^!%ing awesomeness. The Packers made some awesome plays, the 49ers made some awesome plays, the game was freaking awesome, Green Bay is freaking awesome, football is freaking awesome, and a United States of America where all this can happen, just for fun, is, well… awesome.

Ultimately, what might have given me away to those close by was my frequent use of “you guys” when addressing Chaia, my friend and certified coolest person I’ve ever known, who took me to the game. “You guys are playing well.” “You guys have gotten some favorable calls.” “You guys have Aaron Rodgers.” “I can’t believe you guys have Aaron Rodgers.” “You guys don’t even need an offensive line, you have Aaron Rodgers.” You get the idea. And a few people next to us might have as well, but they kept their peace. Point is, you’re the best, Packers fans. I know you’ll be back next year, maybe with a little less bad injury luck.

The Game

The game happened, people watched it, it was incredible, blah-blah. Seriously it was phenomenal. And not actually that cold, avoiding record-setting temperatures with five whole degrees above zero at kickoff (something like -10 with the windchill). It was physical, despite on account of the referees, who let a bunch of stuff go. Before the 49ers’ second field goal, Davon House interfered Michael Crabtree in the end zone, no call. On the Packers’ first touchdown David Bakhtiari wrapped his arms around a rushing Aldon Smith,  no call. Both were right in front of me. Without specifics, I know some of these went the 49ers way as well. And on Rodgers’ miracle fourth down conversion, Evan Dietrich-Smith went for Ray McDonald’s neck to keep him at bay. Of course in the end, as before, it was Kaepernick’s fleet feet that stood out the most, personally at least. And here we were at the final play of the game:

Dawson sets to kick field goal on final play

Dawson sets to kick field goal on final play

49ers 23 – Packers 20. Helluva game.

Additional Photos

the teams get set

the teams get set

excitement!

excitement!

Phil Dawson stands alone...

Phil Dawson stands alone…

not alone!

not alone!

My toes got cold with 8:00 left in the first quarter. I stuffed hand warmers in my boots at half time. Worked for maybe 10 minutes.

My toes got cold with 8:00 left in the first quarter. I stuffed hand warmers in my boots at half time. Worked for maybe 10 minutes.

the end zone

the end zone

Chaia Huff!

Chaia Huff!

9ers win! 9ers win!

9ers win! 9ers win!

... aaaaand, it's still a little chilly outside.

… aaaaand, it was still a little chilly outside.


  1. After going with “Arctic blast,” and then “Arctic outbreak”, the weather people eventually declared it a “polar vortex”. As I understand it, a “polar vortex” is when everyone not wearing at least three layers dies instantly. It doesn’t even matter if you’re inside. Polar vortexes are not to be trifled with. 
  2. See Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won, by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim, “So What Is Driving the Home Field Advantage?” 
  3. He might be because he figured out the defense, or defensive players were injured and came off the field, etc. That would make him more likely to score on each remaining drive. But the act of scoring on the previous drive, in of itself, is independent of the chances of scoring on the next drive. See here
  4. My plan was to rep my 9ers pride if and only if we lost. Rubbing that in after a win, especially a win like that, is unspeakably low. Plus, if we were in San Francisco, I would want to think that we had filled Candlestick with 49ers fans only, so in Lambeau I deemed it polite to create the analogue. 

Well first of all, this:

1st 49ers game

That’s me the last time I was at a football game! Which was my first 49ers game, as detailed in Part 1. What can I say, I was a chubby sixth grader. And in many ways, I still am. But check it:

cool

This chubby sixth grader still climbed all the way to the top of Seahawk Stadium! Boom. And here’s me watching the 49ers and Seahawks take the field before kickoff, way back in 2002:

chute

Awesome stuff. Thank you to my mother for digging up the pictures. Now, over 11 years later, I’m headed back to an NFL game. I mostly covered all of my many, excessive emotions yesterday (again, in Part 1), but there’s a couple other things.

It’s possible tomorrow I’ll be wearing five layers on my upper body and three on my lower body. I’ve probably done that once or twice before, but I can’t recall specifics. I was considering laying out my gear and taking pictures for the hilarity, before being like “Hell no, that will take forever.” Also when getting it all together I fleetingly considered “Wait, will you really need all this? What if you get too hot?” And then I laughed and threw in a thicker pair of socks. Quite frequently I’m worried about being too hot, even in the cold, it makes me pretty uncomfortable. I don’t think I have ever been less worried about being too hot.

Last check of the weather, before going to sleep: high in Green Bay on Sunday, three degrees. Low -19. At 3 p.m, just before kickoff, it will be three degrees, and “feel like” -14 degrees. By 4 p.m. that allegedly will drop to one degree, “feeling like” -17 degrees. Goodness.

Last check of the lines, as always from Sportsbook.com (home team in CAPS), and I’m going… sigh,

PACKERS (+3) vs 49ers

My thinking here is many fold, and I was going to lay it out, but just forget it.1 Until we see a few plays (and maybe still even then), we’ve got No Idea what in heck is going to happen with this game. Three combined passing attempts in the first half? Three touchdowns each in the first half? Three players ejected from each time for lighting themselves on fire in the first half? All three? Anyway, if this game actually does end up being as weird as we suspect it might, I think the home-field could be the deciding factor. No, not the weather, a possibility I’m considering less likely given the Packers style of play and the 49ers defensive strengths. But the refs. There could be weird things, weird calls, and the close ones could be a little more likely to go Green Bay’s way. I’ve got no real problem with that–it’s how it works, it’s not intentional, and you try refereeing a subzero game with thousands of half-frozen/half-drunk people screaming at you–but I think it’ll matter.

Now I’ve got to get some sleep; I’ve got somewhere to be tomorrow.


  1. If you’re curious, I was going to start with data like this and work my way from there., eventually hitting some of my usual favorites like Pythagorean winning percentage, DVOA, team health, etc, but seriously consider the context of this game and then try to answer, what’s the point? 

I’m sorry. I really am. But I have no f$%#ing clue where to start with this game. So, disclaimer, after a Friday night spent watching the Sherlock season three premiere (don’t ask me how!) with friends, I figured the best idea was to get a little drunk and start writing this bit, to ensure that I really let all the Led out, so to speak. At least I’m assuming it’s lead that’s been in my stomach since Rodgers hit Cobb for the game-winner on the lakeside about the same time that Kaepernick hit Patton1 to set up the game-winning field goal in the desert, setting up this season opener rematch in Lambeau, like destiny or some s&#@. Anyway, I’m only kidding. I was already a little drunk. And now here I am, once again listening to Grantland’s Top 64 Songs of the Millennium, sipping chump-#$# 90-proof Knob Creek Smoked Maple whiskey like a b#$%^.2 Where to start? Hell if I know.

First of all, I am going there!?! To the game?!? Fro’ realz? Like what the??? I’ve been to two NFL games in my life. This was me at the first one:

Me at Packers at Broncos 1999

Isn’t that awesome? It’s two weeks before my eighth birthday, we were in Denver to visit my aunt and uncle (I think?), you can sorta tell that I’m totally rocking a Colorado Avalanche jersey, oh and that’s freaking Mile High Stadium, oh and this game featured Brett Favre and John Elway in a rematch of the prior year’s Super Bowl, oh and the Broncos won 31-10 on their way to a second consecutive Super Bowl championship. Not bad.

For some reason I don’t possess a picture of me at my second NFL game, although possibly my mother does. It was something of a surprise before we went on some trip to visit family somewhere, as my mom sprung the tickets on me for an early birthday present, or something. On our way back home we stopped in Seattle and saw my 49ers beat the Seahawks 28-21 on Monday Night Football in the inaugural year of CenturyLink Field (back then just Seahawks Stadium3). Oh yeah and this was of course the game Terrell Owens took a Sharpie out of his sock after scoring the game-winning touchdown, signed the ball, and handed it into his “financial adviser”4, who was sitting close to that end zone, and was also the financial adviser of Shawn Springs, who was covering Owens on the play.5 Of course I didn’t know about that until seeing the news the next day. You know what I do remember? Having this stuck in my head on the way back to our hotel:

I didn’t even know who Jennifer Lopez was I don’t think, and I’m also pretty sure I didn’t quite know what music videos were yet, I just remember that song being on the radio constantly. We’ve come a long way since 2002! Oh, never mind, Blurred Lines just came up on my Grantland playlist. (I am not making this up.) So scratch that thought. That thought.

My first…thought upon getting invited to this 49ers-Packers PLAYOFF GAME was…I don’t remember, I was way, way too excited.6 But my second thought was:

Is this a trick? Does this mean the 49ers will lose? WAIT: I’m supposed to go with you, and your family and friends, who are all die-hard Packers fans, to a game AT Lambeau Field, a PLAYOFF GAME, in which the Packers are playing *my* 49ers, who have beaten the Packers *three* times in a row, including in last season’s opener at Lambeau, and in last season’s divisional round? What happens if the Packers win and I’m upset? What happens if the 49ers win and *all* of you are upset? Would you leave me in Wisconsin? Would I even have a problem with that? They make beer AND cheese in Wisconsin, right?

And after that it’s all a little hazy. Fortunately I’ve got texts and emails to refer to.

Email from My Father, #1

On Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 2:58 PM, [Subject: fresh from Maiocco’s chat line. Be prepared.], [my father] wrote:

Comment From Joe: will you or any of the 49ers be wearing pantyhose in GB?

12:50 Matt Maiocco CSN:I will be the only media member NOT wearing pantyhose. I’m going with Lulu Lemon legware.

All good fun, right? Top-notch 49ers beat writer Matt Maiocco knows how to do the cold, he’ll have some long underwear on, no big deal.

Texts from Chaia and Charles Huff, Round 1

Chaia Huff, Wed 11:46 AM, Jan 1, 2014

WHOOO! http://www.packers.com/media-center/videos/Packers-49ers-weather-forecast-for-Lambeau-Field/836f1019-bf63-4c2c-a82e-0400f9a7ee2e

Chaia Huff,  Wed 11:48 AM, Jan 1, 2014

Lots of layers. You have boots? Feet get the coldest. Why am I even telling you this? You’re from Alaska.

Charles Huff, Wed 11:49 AM, Jan 1, 2014

Get those boot warmer things that you crush

Chaia Huff, Wed 11:49 AM, Jan 1, 2014

Def. Hand ones too.

Chaia Huff, Wed 11:50 AM, Jan 1, 2014

Okay good ha. My feet and hands always freeze at games like this. The rest is usually ok

Snow pants if you have/can borrow some

Okay, it’s going to be cold. So cold that even people who know me well, and know that I have dealt with the cold, and that I’m from Palmer, Alaska, are reminding me, “Hey, it’s going to be cold!” Okay, cool. No big deal.

Email from My Father, #2

On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 1:44 AM, [Subject: Real Metrics!], [my father] wrote:

  • Green Bay Weather Forecast from NWS:
  • .  .  .
  • Saturday Night A chance of flurries. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 5.
  • Sunday A chance of flurries. Partly sunny, with a high near 14.
  • Sunday Night A chance of flurries. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -5.
  • Monday Partly sunny and cold, with a high near 4.

Hmmm.  Solar noon is at 11:57AM on Sunday in Green Bay (I looked it up).

Figure maximum temp about 2 hours later, call it 2:00 PM: 14 degrees

Kickoff  not until 3:40 PM at earliest (subtract 2 degrees per hour for lower angle sun): temperature now 10 to 11 degrees.

Sunset at 4:27 PM  (appx. 47 minutes after kickoff.) Subtract 2 degrees per hour for no sun for 0.8 hours, temperature now about 9 degrees

4th quarter probably over around 7:00 PM (subtract 3 degrees per hour for no sun for 2.3 more hours:  temperature now about zero degrees.

Overtime starting shortly thereafter:   Should be a toasty negative 1 by game’s end, give or take a couple, and beginning to stabilize as it descends gradually toward negative 5 at around midnight. . .

Then, of course, we have to factor in wind chill . . .

Okay, so cold that my father, who has seen me in cold weather even more, is letting me know about the cold. Alright. It’s going to be really cold.

Email from My Father, #3

On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 1:23 PM, [Subject: (no subject)], [my father] wrote:

Email from My Father, #4

On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 1:49 PM, [Subject: Uhhh–Latest weather forecast], [my father] wrote:

NWS  now predicting:

  • Sunday     Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 9.
  • Sunday Night     Mostly cloudy, with a low around -12.

Better subtract 5+  degrees from  previous hourly estimates.  Game temps should hit negative degrees  by third quarter.

Most Anticipated Quotes:

Mike Iupati: “Bet they don’t grow much poi around Green Bay.”

Andy Lee: “Hey!  My foot broke off!”

Head referee:  “No spiking the ball!  It might shatter!”

Email from My Father, #5

On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 2:36 PM, [Subject: ps], [my father] wrote:

 Thermos bottles.  Hot tea. Hot cocoa.  Hot Beer.
 –Hey–wasn’t Kaepernick born in Wisconsin?

Okay, it’s not going to be “really cold”, it’s going to be “really f^#$ing cold”. No worries though, everyone’s still making jokes.

Email from My Father, #6

On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 6:48 PM, [Subject: (no subject)], [my father] wrote:

 And the latest:

  • Sunday:    Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 8.
  • Sunday Night:    Mostly cloudy, with a low around -17.

Revised estimate of kick-off temp:  2 degrees

At this rate, absolute zero may be within reach.

There is a rumor that for the first time in 200 years, there are unsold tickets at Lambeau.

And that Maiocco really is taking leg-wear.

At this point, I should probably note that my father doesn’t do this. Even my mother doesn’t really do this. My parents have more or less trusted me to clothe, feed, and bathe myself for, I dunno, at least a decade. I’ve been living in Chicago, a mile away from the Lake Michigan shoreline and its accompanying icy gusts, for three-plus years at this point. Sometimes we complain about how unreasonably cold it is (at home, or in Chicago), but I don’t think we’ve ever reached SIX emails before.

Texts from Chaia and Charles Huff, Round 2

Chaia Huff, Thursday 12:46 PM, Jan 2, 2014

My sister’s best friend.

Today 12:44 PM

[Name] is going to the game on Sunday. This is her get up

Wool stockings. Long johns. Yoga pants. Jeans. Snow pants. Hunting boots. 4 shirts. Sweatshirt. Coat. Jersey. Gloves. Neck/face cover. Scarf. Hat.

There was also an accompanying photo, although not knowing [name] I chose not to post it. Although [name] was wearing a Packers jersey over all of that, presumably Rodgers’, though with the scarf obscuring half of it all I could see was the ‘2’. Major props though. And at this point, I know for sure that even the hardcore Green Bay locals are taking this weather seriously. I had also become aware that the game still hadn’t sold out, which must have been the longest it’s taken to sell out a Lambeau playoff game in at least 25 years, although I also just completely made that up.

Email from My Father, #7
On Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 12:52 PM, [Subject: (no subject)], [my father] wrote:

Forecast keeps dropping.  Looks like below zero by kick-off.   I wonder how long beer stays liquid at these temps?

  • Sunday    Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 5.
  • Sunday Night    Mostly cloudy, with a low around -19.

Please father, do you think you raised me in Palmer, Alaska and sent me off to Chicago, IL, without me knowing the temperature at which beer freezes? Which is 28 degrees Fahrenheit for “normal” three-to-five percent ABV (two-to-four or so ABW, and does anyone really know what all that’s about?). Honestly. Although I guess that doesn’t really answer your question, in terms of the how much time has to pass. In fact so far as I can tell, the Internet not only doesn’t have a “Given a beer of temperature X, how long will it take to freeze at temperature Y?” calculator, it doesn’t have a “Given some water of volume X and of temperature X’, how long will it take to freeze at temperature Y?” calculator, that doesn’t involve pipes. I’m shocked. And disappointed. Shame on you, Internet.

Email from My Father, #8

On Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 5:27 PM, [Subject: (no subject)], [my father] wrote:

Predicted high for Sunday now down to 2 degrees and still dropping.Pundits currently leaning toward “Ice Bowl II” as appropriate title.  Jessica Simpson tweet: “So Tony, should I bring my sweatshirt?”  Green Bay fans discovered dousing cheese hats in lighter fluid. Goodell irate because NFL so far unable to franchise hydrocarbons for sale at the game.  Is considering delaying kick-off until Monday so legal team can file necessary paperwork.  Projected high on Monday:  -12.

And shame on you, father, for not knowing that Tony Romo is happily married to some woman who is not Jessica Simpson, but who was Miss Missouri, apparently. Romolicious was a long time ago. Cowboys “fans” still probably blame Jessica when he throws an interception, though. Also I love Tony Romo. Just putting that out there. And I’m pretty sure it was at this point that I, the Alaskan, who once skinny-dipped in 20 degree weather (Fahrenheit, and oddly enough, that was in California), started Googling things like “how to stay warm in subzero weather” and “how to not freeze to death”. (The key trick is cotton-less layers. Moisture on the skin for pretty much any period of time and you’ve got trouble. No sweating allowed, without an excellent wicking layer.

Email from My Father, #9

On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 1:20 AM, [Subject: Should now officially be designated the “ARCTIC BLAST” BOWL], [my father] wrote:

Ho hum.  The latest for Green Bay from NWS:”ANOTHER ARCTIC BLAST IS EXPECTED TO MOVE ACROSS THE AREA SUNDAY… WITH THE COLDEST TEMPERATURES EXPECTED MONDAY INTO TUESDAY. AT THIS TIME…IT APPEARS THIS ARCTIC BLAST MAY BE ONE OF THE MOST SEVERE SINCE THE ARCTIC OUTBREAK OF FEBRUARY 1996. THE COMBINATION OF THE FRIGID AIR AND PERSISTENT 10 TO 20 MPH WINDS WILL CAUSE DANGEROUSLY LOW WIND CHILL READINGS IN THE 30 BELOW TO 50 BELOW ZERO RANGE AT TIMES SUNDAY NIGHT INTO TUESDAY. WIND CHILL READINGS THIS LOW CAN CAUSE FROSTBITE WITHIN 15 MINUTES.”(Bet you thought I was kidding about the lighter fluid.
You were right. It all froze. Nonetheless, only 3000 tickets now
unsold.)

“Arctic blast”? What kind of s#$% is that? Most times there’s a winter storm, or even a blizzard. This time there’s going to be an “arctic blast”? Hell no. WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE

Anyway, it’s around that point that s%^@ got real, and I started to think that people could die at this game.

Email from Chaia Huff, #1

On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 8:21 AM, [Subject: Should now be officially designated the “ARCTIC BLAST” BOWL], [Chaia Huff] wrote:

Hahaha ohhhh man. I think we might die. What a great way to go.

We can try and get to Green Bay somewhat early and buy some warmers. That’s assuming they are not completely sold out everywhere. Hahaha.

Let’s try to leave around 8/8:30….is that ok for you? Will prob take 4 hours and that will give us some time to shop somewhere and get lunch and stuff?

My uncles and aunts usually all tailgate and we hit them up but something tells me they won’t be tailgating this week?!?! Hahaha

Sent from my iPhone

And it’s about at this point that I started to think that I could be one of those people. And also wonder things, such as the meaning of life, and sport, and if the 49ers score a touchdown in this game, am I morally obligated to strip shirtless in celebration? Probably, right?

Email from My Father, #10

On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 2:49 PM, [Subject: Breaking now: the “Arctic Outbreak Bowl, 10-minutes-until-you’re-dead” forecast], [my father] wrote:

New proof that  NWS is part of the Sneak-the-Packers-into-the-Super-Bowl Conspiracy:Wind Chill AdvisoryURGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GREEN BAY WI 1058 AM CST FRI JAN 3 2014 …AN ARCTIC OUTBREAK ARRIVES WITH NEAR RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES AND DANGEROUSLY COLD WIND CHILLS EARLY NEXT WEEK… A POWERFUL ARCTIC COLD FRONT IS FORECAST TO SWEEP ACROSS THE REGION THIS WEEKEND AND SET THE STAGE FOR THE COLDEST AIR MASS SEEN OVER WISCONSIN IN YEARS. NEAR RECORD COLD IS EXPECTED FROM SUNDAY NIGHT THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT. THIS BITTERLY COLD AIR… COMBINED WITH WINDS OF 10 TO 20 MPH…WILL CREATE DANGEROUSLY COLD WIND CHILL VALUES IN THE 35 BELOW TO 55 BELOW ZERO RANGE SUNDAY NIGHT AND AGAIN MONDAY NIGHT. UNDER THESE CONDITIONS… FROSTBITE COULD OCCUR IN 10 MINUTES.Ice Bowl-1 will soon look like a warm afternoon at the park.

By the end of the game, as the coldest air mass in years whistles in, there may be a risk of frostbite on exposed skin within 10 minutes. It’s not a lock yet, but this could be the coldest game in NFL history. I’m solidly on board with the whole “take-the-weather-seriously-so-I-don’t-die” plan at this point. Although if you check out that article, they’ve got Packers tight end Ryan Pickett expressing his belief that wearing long sleeves in this weather won’t turn his penis into a vagina, which is great, except it leaves me wondering, are any NFL players thinking that?!? In the age of Richie Incognito, does an NFL player literally have to let his skin freeze until it falls off to prove his manliness? I sincerely hope not.

Email from Chaia Huff, #2

On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM, Chaia Huff <chaiahuff@gmail.com> wrote:

Hahaha oh dear

Sent from my iPhone

Oh jeez. Should I even bother preparing at this point? You bet I should!

Hand Warmers!

Yup, those are 12 10-hour hand warmers I purchased Friday afternoon. Go me, and my soon-to-be warm hands! I was planning on shoving them down into my boots to, but these might be activated by air, or something, and I may need a different kind that are activated by feet, or something? I’ll be investigating more fully before the game.

Texts from Chaia and Charles Huff, Round 3

Chaia Huff, Friday, 5:34 PM, January 3, 2014

Apparently the packers are giving away free hot choc and coffee during the game-2 per person. And free hand warmers.

Charles Huff, Friday, 5:35 PM, January 3, 2014

Cheaper than buying the rest of those tickets to avoid Green Bay blackout ;)

Chaia Huff, Friday 5:39 PM, January 3, 2014

[Upon receiving the picture of my hand warmers and me] Hahahaha I also bought 8

Charles Huff, Friday 5:40 PM, January 3, 2014

This is the most epic thing ever ever

And while expectations sometimes go unmet, and the game hasn’t happened yet (and, in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think there’s a tiny chance it wont?), I’m inclined to agree there’s some potential here. It might be a terrible football game, but if it’s a terrible football game that’s the coldest ever, it’s going to be making at least one all-time list for sure.

We all have those uniquely wonderful, bizarre, illogically ridiculous moments in life, that are ours. Chaia’s parents actually attended the Ice Bowl, which is so fantastic I don’t think I can handle it. Hell, look at this column–I obviously can’t. The Packers and 49ers are going to play playoff football in pre-windchill-adjusted subzero temperatures this Sunday. In front of a packed house that, at least technically, sold out around noon Friday.7 Thousands of us are going to be there watching. That is…So. Freaking. Awesome. I can’t wait.

P.S.

Check back later for Part 2! After getting those first 3,000 words out of the way, I might finally be ready to actually talk about the game.


  1. When is it going to be acceptable to start calling the rookie “General Patton” or just “the General”? Does he have to make a big play in the playoffs first? Or command troops in WWII? Whatever it is can he hurry up and do it? I’m getting impatient over here. 
  2. I actually do have real whiskey (also Knob Creek, as well as some Knob Creek bourbon) but I feel like that’s more “drink-in-the-company-of-others” whiskey as opposed to “I-am-looking-for-something-to-keep-me-going-while-I-write-this-ridiculous-post” whiskey. It’s just my opinion. 
  3. Remember when stadiums just, like, had names that we called them by, and hadn’t sold in the open market of corporate sponsorship for millions of dollars? Yeah…I don’t remember either. 
  4. It’s in quotes because the guy did a terrible job, or so I’m guessing given that Owens ended up bankrupt like a zillion times over, despite making, I don’t even know, super millions. 
  5. Remember that? I promise I am not making this up. 
  6. Look, I’m getting closer to my first thoughts about the actual game itself, alright? You can’t rush these things! At least, I can’t. 
  7. The Kansas City at Indianapolis game sold out at about the same time. Indianapolis plays indoors. 
%d bloggers like this: