Points of divergence for Minnesota, Wisconsin fans

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 9, 2011 - 6:53 AM

With the border battle heightening this weekend, Wisconsin fans have had the upper hand ... while Minnesota fans have watched some of their major teams drop the ball again and again.


Minnesota Vikings fan Chris Konsor and his roommate Jay Bushmaker who is a Green Bay Packers fan.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

As winter closes in, there are signs of a thaw.

The Wild's four-game winning streak means a place near the top of the NHL's Western Conference. The Gophers hockey team is ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Vikings appear to have a quarterback they can pin their future on; the Gophers football team is stockpiling moral victories.

Baby steps. But if you're a sports fan in Minnesota these days, you take what you can get.

The Twins? A historically bad season led to Bill Smith's removal and Terry Ryan's reinstatement as general manager. The Vikings will miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The Timberwolves -- in lockdown mode -- hope Rick Adelman will save them from being an NBA laughingstock. The Wild hasn't been in the playoffs since 2008.

It has been a tough time for sports fans. And now, a two-day border battle makes local shortcomings even more apparent.

The Gophers will play host to the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday, and the Vikings travel to Green Bay to play the Packers on Monday.

The state to the east first had the fun-loving Brewers, who rode their "Beast Mode" into the baseball playoffs as the Twins were forced to "celebrate" not losing 100 games.

The invasion of the Badgers, the nation's 16th-ranked football team, means TCF Bank Stadium will revisit a few weeks ago, when Nebraska fans flooded the town and made Gophers fans see red.

The unbeaten Packers are the defending NFL champions and the only unbeaten team.

The fan rivalry can mean frustration.

"I have to hear it every week, even from his dog," Chris Konsor said.

Konsor, wearing a purple satin smoking jacket, stood under a tarp, out of the rain, in a parking lot a few blocks from the Metrodome in the hours before the Vikings-Packers game Oct. 23. Next to him, dressed in Packers green, was his roommate, Jay Bushmaker, a Green Bay native. The dog reference is to Bushmaker's pet, who is dressed in Packers garb every Sunday. Konsor and Bushmaker will be at Lambeau field together on Monday.

"It's ridiculous," Konsor continued. "It hurts so bad. It really does. He's happy every single Sunday and I'm crushed and defeated. It's been a rough couple years, except for the Minnesota Lynx. Go Lynx!"

Konsor turned to his friend.

"Where is your women's basketball team? Oh, wait, you have one: The Milwaukee Bucks."

This border battle has been waged for years in homes in both states. But rarely has that battle been so one-sided. The Brewers, the Badgers, the Packers ... towering over the Twins, the Gophers and the Vikings.

Empty seats

Hours before the Gophers played Nebraska on Oct. 22, the TCF Bank Stadium parking lot for season-ticket holders was being overrun by Huskers fans.

Larry Oster was heating up the grill, dressed top to toes in red. He was born in Minnesota but moved to Nebraska when he was a kid. He remembers going to the Nebraska-Minnesota game in Lincoln in 1984.

"I went as a Gophers fan," he recalled. "But I went straight to the bookstore after that game and bought new clothes and became a Nebraska fan."

Now back in Minnesota, he holds Gophers season tickets because he loves college football. But he still wears red to games.

And at least he goes. The Gophers have to depend on fanatical foreigners to keep TCF Bank mostly filled. The Vikings are selling out, but working very hard to do so. Target Center is nearly as full now during the lockout than it was when the Wolves were playing last season, and scalpers were left with handfuls of tickets at Target Field by the end of the Twins season.

A few cars down from Oster, Walter Bond prepared his tailgate spread. Bond came to Minnesota from Chicago to play basketball for the Gophers. He was on the Minnesota team that reached the NCAA regional finals in 1990.

Bond, who still lives in the Twin Cities, is a motivational speaker.

"I've lived here now more than half my life," he said. "I've become a Vikings fan, a Twins fan. I love Gophers basketball and football. It has been a tough stretch. But I'm a fan. Win or lose won't determine whether I follow them. I've never been a fair-weather guy. I'm committed."

And the pain

Walking, hand-in-hand, before that Oct. 23 Vikings game (which the Packers would win, 33-27) were Brittany Badour and Chris Rainforth, up from Omaha for the game. Badour, who grew up in Green Bay and played youth sports against Brett Favre's daughter, was wearing an Aaron Rodgers jersey. Rainforth was wearing a Percy Harvin jersey. Rainforth said he has been on the wrong end of that split for a while.

"It's so rough to be a fan right now," Rainforth said. "You think every year is going to get better, but it doesn't. But now [Vikings rookie quarterback Christian] Ponder is starting. I see some promise there."

Also walking in the rain that Sunday were Diane and Brad Therrien. She is a Wisconsin native and Packers fan, he is a Minnesotan who has always followed the Vikings. They have two children, whose football loyalties are split.

Diane has a shirt for every team in the NFL, and wears the shirt of whatever team the Vikings are playing that week. Brad grins and bears it.

"Hope is what lets you get by," he said. "It's just hope."

But, in Minnesota, there is a strange mix of emotions. Vikings fans are loyal even though the team has broken their hearts so many times. Tauer, a local, understands that, comparing Vikings fans to Chicago Cubs fans.

"I don't think we expect to win championships," Tauer said. "The Twins are our only champions, and that's 20 years out."

As a fellow who did his graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, John Tauer, a University of St. Thomas associate professor of psychology, also understands the extra pain fans of Minnesota sports are feeling this weekend.

"Minnesota fans might accept not winning, but what makes it more difficult is a look across the border. The Packers, the Badgers, the Brewers. That might make it sting a little more."

The answer? You can dig in and wait for better times. Or not. Responding to an on-line question about how fans cope, Tony Perleberg e-mailed his response:

"I moved to Arizona," he said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question