Started during the 2020 season, “Section Yellow” now attracts dozens of Packers fans on game day and a digital community of 1,000 (& counting!) on social media.
Alcohol and athletics often go hand in hand, especially here. Wisconsin cities routinely fill national lists of the “drunkest” in the country. Sure, the classification can be funny for casual drinkers, but to recovering addicts, it can be triggering and isolating.
Luckily, those fans have a home at Lambeau, home of the Green Bay Packers. Shortly after a 2019 report found the Badger State has one of the highest binge-drinking rates in the US and Brown County, where Lambeau is located, has an even higher binge-drinking rate than the state average, a group of sober fans decided to start a special section inside the stadium to connect with others just like them.
“Section Yellow” is located near sections 110 and 112 in the stadium concourse. Every home game, volunteers operate a booth (near the kiosk that used to pass out free water as part of a designated driver program.) The group hands out 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 looking for them.
The Packers now recognize “Section Yellow” as a charitable organization and give its founders two passes to each game.
“It’s good to have an oasis in a place where you are surrounded by folks that are having a good time — and sometimes having way too much of a good time,” co-founder Tom Doughman said in an interview on Wisconsin Public Radio. “Just to know that somebody else has your back, and they acknowledge you’re doing something that may not be in the norm, but it is supported.”
“It’s kind of a unique situation where you can be in the midst of this culture where it’s really normalized to have five drinks in an evening,” 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:
Smart Recovery Online: for 24/7 chats, forums and online meetings
National Helpline: for 24/7 guidance on recovery, connection to drug rehab centers, and access to detox and rehab programs
AA Wisconsin: for find information on meetings near you