Launched in the 2020 season, “Section Yellow” now attracts dozens of Packers fans on game day and a digital community of 1,000 (and counting!) on social media.
Alcohol and athletics often go hand in hand, especially here. Cities in Wisconsin routinely fill out national “drunkest” lists in the country. Sure, classification can be fun for casual drinkers, but for recovering addicts, it can be triggering and isolating.
Fortunately, these fans have a home in Lambeau, home of the Green Bay Packers. Shortly after a 2019 report found Badger State had one of the highest rates of binge drinking in the United States and Brown County, where Lambeau is located, has a rate of binge drinking even higher than the state average, a group of sober fans decided to start a special section inside the stadium to connect with others like them.
“Yellow section” is located near sections 110 and 112 in the stadium lobby. At each home game, volunteers man a stand (near the kiosk that was used to distribute free water as part of a designated driver program). The group distributes stickers that say “one game at a time” (a nod to the recovery mantra, “one day at a time”) in addition to sharing recovery resources with people who seek them.
The Packers now recognize “Yellow Section” as a charity and give its founders two byes for every game.
“It’s nice to have an oasis in a place where you’re surrounded by people having a good time — and sometimes way too much good time,” co-founder Tom Doughman said in an interview on Wisconsin Public Radio. “Just to know that someone else has your back and recognizes that you’re doing something that may not be the norm, but it’s supported.”
“It’s kind of a unique situation where you can be in the middle of this culture where it’s really normal to have five drinks in one night,” he continued. Doughman celebrated 40 years of sobriety in September.
If you or someone you know is looking for opportunities to connect with others in recovery, check out these organizations:
Online Smart Recovery: for 24/7 online chats, forums and meetings
National hotline: for 24/7 advice on recovery, connecting to drug treatment centers and accessing drug and rehabilitation programs
A.A. Wisconsin: to find information about meetings near you