THERE’S no denying an intoxicating pride in the Seattle air. The Seattle Seahawks are now 5-1. They’re currently ranked third in the power rankings after Week 6, receiving SportsCenter accolades and staking claim to the NFL’s September defensive player of the month Richard Sherman, the first Seahawk to ever hold such a title.
And it all feels dirty.
The sudden fan-base boost seems superficial at best. Where were the sold-out seats when they went 4-12? Or in 2009 when they went 5-11? How about in 1992 when they went, ouch, 2-14? Can the majority of these new die-hard Seahawks fans name five starting players? Do they know who Jim Zorn, Steve Largent or even Shaun Alexander are?
Would they even care?
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Seattle is frequently overlooked on a national scale. Now we have a rapper by the name of Macklemore and a Legion of Boom by the names of Brandon Browner, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, and a very real place in the national spotlight. It’s cool to be from Seattle now. It’s in to rep a Sonics jersey, be part of the 12th Man or wear thrift-shop fur coats.
For true Seahawks fans, while the hysteria is rather enjoyable and definitely hard-earned, it all seems like a surface-value slap in the face. People seem to be more interested in jumping on a bandwagon than faithfully loving a team that has brought the city of Seattle its fair share of ups and downs.
Do individuals simply want to reap the benefits of loving a top-ranked team, without logging in the losing-season man-hours? Or is it merely a need to feel part of a now nationally recognized, record-breaking crowd?
How about the struggling Seattle Mariners? How many Mariners fans from 2001, who stood by a 116-46 division-winning team, were seen at Safeco Field this season? With a .438 record this year, unable to surpass .500 for the fourth consecutive time, attendance is at an all-time low.
Yes, it’s painful to watch a team continually lose. However, ebbs and flows, ups and downs, shouting from rooftops and talking yourself off the ledge are all parts of the game. If you get dressed up and publicly profess your love during the good times, shouldn’t you stick around through the debilitating bad times? Or is Seattle’s fandom just as doomed as many marriages?
Think back to the last season of the Seattle Sonics. The average attendance the last year they suited up in the Pacific Northwest? 13,355. In the 1998-99 season, the average attendance was 17,072. Of course other factors contributed to Seattle’s loss of an NBA team. However, it cannot be denied that the depleted fan base and overall loss of support didn’t help.
Sonics jerseys are spotted more frequently now than during the final few years Sonics sneakers squeaked in Seattle. Something is wrong with this picture.
One cannot help but wonder how short-lived my city’s filthy pride will last. If the Seahawks fall short of the Super Bowl, will season ticket holders give away their seats? Will rumors of losing another professional sports team emerge?
I hope not.
I hope the support isn’t as superficial as it feels. If we hold our heads high for going against the grain when it comes to marriage equality or marijuana laws, let’s hold our heads high consistently. Seattle shouldn’t be a city of momentary illustriousness or transitory pride.
The truth is, we will always be False Start City. We will always be home to the 12th Man, Ken Griffey Jr. and the Sonics. We’ll still break world records and provoke San Francisco fans to complain in their newspapers. And through it all, there will be days of loss. There isn’t a rap artist, 2-14 season or under .500 performance that can change that.
National ranking or no national ranking.
Danielle Campoamor is a Seattle freelance writer. On Twitter @DCampoamor