Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

For Wisconsin Sports Fans, 2011 was the Best Year Ever

The ’57 Braves must have been something else.

The Packers Championships in the 60s?  Wish I had been there.

The ’71 Bucks.  The ’77 Warriors.  The ’82 Brewers.  Three UW Rose Bowl victories.  Terrific times.

But for Wisconsin sports fans, 2011 was the greatest year on record, and I’m not quite sure young Wisconsinites get it.  They can’t recall a time when the Packers weren’t a contender (assuming they block out 2008).  To them, the Badgers football team has always been bowl-bound.  And sure, the Brewers had some tough years, but two playoff appearances in four seasons is nothing to scoff at.

They don’t know what we know.  We’ve suffered through bad seasons.  Really bad.  Horrendously bad.  Like 4-12 Packer teams, a Brewers franchise that avoided the playoffs for two and a half decades, and...well, you want to hear about bad?  Get this – the 2011 Badgers football team won as many games as in my entire tenure at UW-Madison.  (And it took me five football seasons to graduate!)

I’m not even joking about that last one.  UW won ten games in five seasons.  It was the Don Morton debacle.

So when looking back on 2011, it’s hard to convey to young folks just how amazing this year has been.

Consider the following:

The Packers lost a total of one game in 2011, won a Super Bowl and set a record for regular season wins.

The Brewers won 101 games in 2011, including a playoff run, and set a record for regular season wins.

Both Marquette and Wisconsin made the Sweet Sixteen in the men’s NCAA tournament.

And sure, UW football started 2011 with a loss in the Rose Bowl, but it ended the year with a chance to change the outcome.

Years like 2011 just don’t happen.  Maybe in cities where drinking beer is just a pastime, not a mission, but not in puny Milwaukee and Green Bay. 

So soak it up, young sports lovers.  2011 might go down as the pinnacle of Wisconsin sports years.  A year you’ll tell your grandkids about.  A year that will one day bring a smile to you as you suffer through season after season of botched fielding, inept tackling and sloppy dribbling.

Then again, you might instead recall 2012, a year that shows just as much promise today as its little sister did last New Year’s Eve.

Soak it up, indeed.

Copyright, 2017, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved