Disclaimer: This is being written several days prior to the Super Bowl, so at this time the winner is unknown and I won’t be going back to edit this post once the game has passed. This is written based on my personal experience and is completely subjective.
One of the oddest things I’ve witnessed since moving to Washington is the completely insane levels of football fanaticism shown by Seahawks fans. This is like some “Friday Night Lights” type of crazy. I mean, Jesus Christ, the “12th Man” is like an actual THING. This over-the-top show of support for an NFL team is definitely something new for me.
Truthfully, I couldn’t care less about football if I tried. I don’t have a favorite team and I find the sport painfully boring to watch. But I do love history, and sports history is a very real part of a community.
It seems that every Washington bar with a television in it has some kind of promotion or party every time the Seahawks play. The Space Needle flies a giant flag with the Seahawks colors and a number 12 emblazoned on it. Retailers are stocked with every article of navy and lime green clothing they can find. Every time I go out to run errands I lose count of how many people I see out and about wearing their favorite player’s jersey. Boeing now has a Seahawks jet. And don’t even get me started on my Facebook feed.
Having been born and raised in Miami, I have never experienced the type of football frenzy I’ve seen here in Washington. My boyfriend thinks it’s because people in Miami are “too cool for school” and they feel rooting for a sports team is not. But I don’t think that’s it because the Miami Heat are very well-loved and are hometown heroes. (Now basketball is a sport I do love. I could watch the Miami Heat play until my eyeballs fall out.)
I don’t know if part of the reason for the lack of interest in football comes from having a less than stellar NFL home team in south Florida. (My Miami friends that are into football mostly root for teams other than the Dolphins. Ouch!) My other theory is that perhaps it’s because Miami is a multi-cultural city with a population mostly comprised of immigrants and football is such a decidedly “American” sport. It is more likely that Miamians would be way more excited for the World Cup than the Super Bowl. Even the lackluster Miami Marlins (previously Florida Marlins) seem to get more attention from fans, as baseball is something that is played in many Latin countries.
Additionally, it feels like the Seahawks fans I’ve encountered are of the true fan variety, and not the fair-weather sort I’m used to seeing. Case in point, although many of us basketball lovers have been Heat fans for many years, I remember a lot of people jumping on the Miami Heat bandwagon after they won the 2006 NBA Championship, then losing all interest in them the following season. The same thing happened when they won consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013. I am interested to see what happens at the end of this season. Being that the Miami Dolphins haven’t won a Super Bowl since the early 70s (following an undefeated season), or an AFC Conference Championship since 1984, there isn’t too much to get excited about there. When Ricky Williams was on the team a lot of people jumped on HIS bandwagon, but that also died down once he took his “sabbatical.” I mean, in all fairness, it is pretty difficult to get psyched up over a team that continually disappoints season after season. But it seems that Seahawks fans continue to back their team whether they win or lose. It’s almost like a badge of honor.
The Seahawks have not always been a top team and, even with many playoff appearances to their name, this is only their second time going to the Super Bowl during their 38-year history. But it still seems that their fans are the most loyal around. My boyfriend told me a story, from when he was little, of his dad and uncles driving from Othello to the Tri-Cities for their Columbia Basin Seahawks Fan Club meetings. And there are even pictures from 1979 of legendary Seahawks Steve Largent, John Sawyer, Art Kuehn, and Dan Doornink at his grandparents’ farm during pheasant hunting season (see below), which made the local paper.
So, being someone who is naturally curious to a fault, it makes me question: why are Seahawks fans so loyal? Why do they take such pride in a team that has never won a Super Bowl? Is it “just because”? Or is there something deeper to it? Is it just something you do because it’s what your parents did? Is it the sense of community that comes from being in this together?
More interestingly, how will the outcome of this upcoming Super Bowl affect that fandom? If they win, will the support become even more exaggerated? If they lose, will their fans still be there, supporting the team no matter what, because that’s what they’ve always done?
Honestly, I really want to know.
*Title refers to the Guinness World Record for “The loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium” which was 137.6 dB and was achieved by fans of the Seattle Seahawks, at Centurylink Stadium in Seattle, Washington, on December 2, 2013.
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