137.6 dB

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.

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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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Lou Galindo

Lou Galindo

Cuban-American transplant from Miami. Work-at-home online content manager and researcher for an L.A.-based marketing co-op specializing in travel. Pop culture junkie, wannabe photographer, sometime scrapbooker, and full-time dork.

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  • Becca Lingley

    I’ve been amazed this year with the fan support of the Seahawks, too. Being from New England, I’m a Pats fan, and while the Patriots have done well over my lifetime, fans never get as crazed about the team being successful as they do here. At least, not during my lifetime. I don’t know what the first Superbowl win season was like for the Pats.

    I really think that it has a LOT to do with the fact that the Seahawks were the NFL’s super-underdog. Having NEVER won a superbowl, they lived in a perpetual state of under-dog, and who doesn’t like to root for the under-dog to beat all the odds? I, too, wonder if the fan exhilaration will continue next year now that the Seahawks have finally achieved an elusive Superbowl win.

    I imagine that it won’t, only because now the seeming impossible has been achieved. It has been an epic and no doubt rewarding experience for the fans. But, we are a 15 second society. And any future Superbowl wins, whle exciting, will never be so sweet.

  • This is fabulously fascinating. Excellent op-ed! I’ve wondered this as well but am not convinced the pride and fervor here in the PNW comes anywhere near that of the south. Football in the south rivals only religion, and to some, it’s their secret idol. Any guesses or thoughts on the questions you posed or the contrast with the south?

  • Lou Galindo

    Excellent point about the 15-second society. I expect that the fervor will die down within a few weeks. I mean, it has to, right? What I have found interesting is the “sore loser”-ishness from non-Seahawks fans. It’s fascinating how personally invested people are in the outcome. As if they are the ones that are up for the multi-million $ contract renewals. SMH

  • Lou Galindo

    Thanks! True about the south. I lived in Texas for a couple of years when I was a kid and I definitely remember football being a big deal there. We lived across the street from the high school and Friday nights were insane. And at the time (late ’70s) the Dallas Cowboys were THE team everyone worshiped. But I was too young to really be aware of the extent of the fanaticism. I think part of my “ignorance” is also due to the fact my dad doesn’t like or watch football so I was never exposed to it while growing up. My BF thinks that when it comes to small towns, or places in the south, midwest, etc, that a lot of it has to do with there being absolutely nothing else going on. What else do you do on a Friday night but go watch the local high school teams play? On Sundays you watch NFL on tv because there’s nothing else to do after church. It makes sense to me in that regard. Plus I’m guessing there have to be some big stakes in it for the players. It might be their one opportunity to get scouted, go to college, etc.?