Getting up to watch a game in the middle of the night is nothing to these 12s.
Seattle fans griping about getting up early Sunday mornings to watch Seahawks playoff games have nothing on Munkh-Od “Max” Batbaatar.
It was midnight in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, when he watched last Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game streaming live on First Row Sports Live.
The game ended around 6:30 in the morning, just in time for him to take his son to kindergarten and go to work. On no sleep.
“Once a week is no big deal,” he wrote in a Twitter direct message. “That’s how I can watch the live game.”
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He’s not the only one in Ulaanbaatar who loves the Seahawks. He says he knows of about 20 other fans there, both Americans and other Mongolians who have spent time in Seattle.
The only chance he has to enjoy the game with a larger group is during the Super Bowl, when Seahawks and other NFL fanatics go to an Irish pub that airs the game, hosted by the Mongolian Football Association.
Batbaatar, 31, lived in Seattle from 2005 to 2011 while he was an exchange student going to college to study hotel management. The first game he ever watched was the Seahawks’ 2006 Super Bowl loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he was hooked. When he went back to Mongolia, he kept up with the Hawks.
“My dream is opening Seahawk 12th (Man) fan club in Mongolia,” he wrote via Twitter’s direct message.
In some ways, Batbaatar has it harder than the collection of 12s stationed at Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. naval joint expeditionary base in Djibouti, 4,400 miles from Ulaanbaatar and 8,200 miles from Seattle — just about as far as one can get from home.
The Horn of Africa base has about 10 Hawks fans in a population of 4,000.
“We need two more to make it an even 12,” said Christopher Williams, 44, of Anacortes, a civilian airfield manager.
If that seems like a paltry number, take heart. Seattle native Ryan Alexander, 34, said, “The 49ers are down to one.”
The morning playoff games turn out to be good timing: 10 a.m. in Seattle is about 9 p.m. there. Alexander and Mark McDaniel, 31, of Longview, and Eric Macdonald, 44, of Mill Creek, sometimes get together and watch the games in common areas on the base.
The games are shown live on the American Forces Network (AFN). “Then they will replay it eight, 10 hours later — so hopefully no one tells you what the score was,” Williams said.
Score spoilers are one reason they get up in the middle of the night for the first showing of regular-season afternoon games, or at 3 or 4 a.m. for the night games.
“I get up in the morning and I can usually catch the end of a Monday night game or a Sunday night game,” said Macdonald.
“You sleep the night before!” added Alexander. Or, said Williams, “You skip lunch and take a nap during lunch.”
Gathering for an interview with The Seattle Times was the first time a few of the guys had met. They showed up with their jerseys (a few Wilsons, a Sherman and a Thomas) and proudly displayed their 12th Man flag.
The early-morning starts will be over after Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers, win or lose.
But both Batbaatar and his brothers-in-Hawks at Camp Lemonnier halfway around the world had no doubt they’ll be getting up in the middle of the night to watch the Seahawks in the next few weeks. (If Seattle wins, the Hawks play for the NFC Championship on at 3:40 p.m.(PST), Jan. 24.)
“Not if we go to the Super Bowl,” said Macdonald.
“When!” exclaimed Alexander.
Batbaatar was equally confident, saying, “I’m 110 percent sure we will go to the Super Bowl.”