By Doug Halberstadt
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a chance to take a little trip down to Branson, Missouri. One of the interesting things I observed during the trip is sports fans are basically the same, no matter where you go. The only thing that’s different is the teams they back.
After spending our first night in St. Louis, we came down for breakfast and the first person I saw after exiting the elevator had on an Oklahoma Sooners sweatshirt. That’s not at all what I would have guessed. The big weekend college game down there was Missouri versus Arkansas.
At one of the tables across from where I was sitting, there was an older guy reading the sports section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He had on a well-worn Packers hat and was drinking his coffee from a Badgers travel mug.
Climbing into the car to leave the parking lot, I did happen to see a guy wearing a Bears coat loading luggage into his van. I quickly glanced at his license plates. They were from Missouri. I assumed he was a transplant, and I smiled as I drove away.
A few hours later, we reached our destination. Branson is well known not only for its musical entertainment theaters, but also for its traffic congestion. While waiting in the long lines of cars, I used the time to look around and scope out the people coming and going in all different directions. I immediately noticed a family heading into one of the local restaurants. The dad was wearing a sharp-looking red and black Arkansas shirt and the mom had on a purple and gold LSU jersey. Both kids had on black and gold Missouri gear.
Branson has numerous places to buy gifts and souvenirs. None of the places I visited had anything I was used to seeing in stores around here. There wasn’t a single item in one of the places that I visited that had a Bears, Packers, Cubs, Sox, Bulls or Blackhawks logo on it. Everything down there was either adorned with a Rams, Chiefs, Cardinals, JayHawks, Sooners or Cowboys logo. Not the Dallas Cowboys, either, but the Oklahoma State University Cowboys.
The weather there was unseasonably warm, even for Branson. The temperatures were in the upper 60s and lower 70s. I did see people out on the golf courses. Unlike the other sports, where it’s easy to tell one fan from another, the golf course is totally different. Much like golfers from this area, and I’m guessing all across the country, Nike and Titleist dominated the attire I saw.
After a long car ride back to chilly Rockford on Sunday, there was only one thing left I had to do before sitting down to watch the Broncos and Chiefs game. I put on a Tennessee Vols sweatshirt and a pair of Bears flannel lounge pants. Even though the weather here won’t allow me to wear any Nike or Titleist short-sleeved golf shirts for the next few months, it does feel good to be back home.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
Posted Dec. 2, 2014