Despite political, social or religious viewpoints that may divide us, a common allegiance to our team finds us focusing on the same goal. And that’s good news!

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One of the highlights of the holiday season for me was attending the “It’s a Wonderful Life” Festival in Seneca Falls, New York. Because it was the 70th anniversary of the Frank Capra classic film (and since I had written a book about the movie), I had been invited to do a book reading/signing there.

While strolling the streets of “the real Bedford Falls,” I encountered a man with the same Seahawks beanie I was wearing. He called out “Sea…” to which I responded “…Hawks.” I found it odd in the heart of Buffalo Bills country to encounter another Seahawks fan. As we talked, I discovered my fellow “12” was from Mount Vernon and was married to Frank Capra’s granddaughter.

Friends of mine throughout the country regularly remind me that there is something unique about Seahawks fans. On Facebook or in person, they comment about the remarkable devotion that distinguishes our city when it comes to our football team. I have to agree.

As a clergy person I’m inclined to see more than just team loyalty. There is almost a spiritual quality to it. Our love of the Seahawks has a unifying dimension worth noting. Despite political, social or religious viewpoints that may divide us, a common allegiance to our team finds us focusing on the same goal. And that’s good news!

Three years ago when I opened the joint legislative session in Olympia in prayer, I asked the Almighty to help members of both parties strive for the same kind of unity that is observable on both sides of the aisle on any given Game Day.

From my pastoral perspective I see a number of elements that characterize our fan loyalty that relate to the culture of parishes I have served. Sunday afternoons in Century Link Field are akin to Sunday mornings in church. There is ritual. There are responsive chants. The choir in the 300 level loft is robed in matching apparel.

What is more, we “12s” express our faith in our team in a variety of ways. Depending on our personalities, we sit, stand, jump, lift our hands, raise our voices and (at times) close our eyes. And we are evangelistic in our enthusiasm. We can’t keep our passion to ourselves.

It doesn’t take a seminary graduate to observe that Blue Fridays are a sacred day in Seattle. It’s truly a religious experience. Flags fly. Banners are unfurled. Weekly Seahawks poems on the radio (like calls to worship) invite the faithful to engage. And there’s the communal greeting.

Whenever I pass a person on the street who is wearing a jersey, I call out “Go Hawks” and someone I have never met answers back, “Go Hawks!” It is quite similar to ‘passing the peace’ in church on Sunday when “The Lord be with you!” is answered with “And also with you!”

The unrivaled devotion to our team is demonstrated by the percentage of our population that dresses in Hawks gear on days other than Friday and Sunday. It’s uncanny. Throughout the week our uniform allegiance to the Hawks is noteworthy. The faith of the Seahawks faithful is making believers out of skeptics from coast to coast.

Much like a local congregation, there is a sense of family that characterizes we “12s.” When we win, there is shared pride and a communal awareness that we are part of a unique fellowship. And when we lose, there is comfort in knowing that we are not grieving alone. Win or lose we find meaning in belonging.

It is much like the old Swedish proverb that expresses, “A shared joy is a doubled joy. A shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”

Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos is the full-time chaplain at Covenant Shores Retirement Community on Mercer Island. He is the faith and values columnist for the Mercer Island Reporter and contributes original poetry each Blue Friday to KOMO news radio.

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