Saturday, February 04, 2006

Only Seattle Seahawk blog entry written by a Seattle area native in Sioux Falls, South Dakota?

Though I do not often write about sports on this blog, one look at my blogger profile reveals that I follow many teams--and I follow many of them closely. With the internet game feeds and Sirius, I don't feel like an exiled fan in the Northern Great Plains being forced to watch the Minnesota Vikings or Twins. These teams have nice followings, and they are compelling franchises--they are just not part of the fabric of who I am.

The Super Bowl for me this year takes me to an exciting place--Seattle has not had a major professional sports championship since the 1979 Seattle Sonics of the National Basketball Association. As a nine year old I remember running out in to the street and jumping up and down, glad for my favorite basketball players--Gus Williams, Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, Lonnie Shelton and Downtown Freddy Brown. The yellow and green t-shirt from that season is still alive, worn by brother Beaker's wife--though with a baby on the way, I'm not sure how much longer she'll be wearing that.

As a sports fan who reads sports publications and listens to sports radio (a lot less than I used to), coverage of Seattle area teams is often muted because the density of professional teams becomes less significant the farther west one moves on the U.S. map. West Coast games are missed by most of the country because often people in the Eastern and Central times zones are moving toward their beds rather than following a team from the west. This phenomenon provides the foundation for what is commonly called in public discourse "East Coast Bias." This entry is not a debate about ECB, only to provide background for what a Seattle fan might be experiencing these days.

I feel a mild euphoria these days--euphoric that a team I have followed since my childhood has made it to football's grandest stage. The euphoria is mild because the Seahawks are not in the highest echelon of my fanhood: this is how it breaks down in echelons:

Seattle Mariners/Washington Huskies/Kansas Jayhawks
Seattle Seahawks/Edmonton Oilers
Seattle Sonics

The euphoria comes from civic pride: the cartoon above depicts one kind of Seattle fan--I like it because it is the COMPLETE opposite of what kind of fan would be found in the Northern Great Plains (let alone anywhere else in the country). This makes me proud because the culture in which I was raised is distinctive and contributes to who I am. I wonder if I could ever move back to the Northwest because I wouldn't be different anymore...

I love hearing the stories about the futility of Seattle Seahawks and sports history. I love the stories about Seattle culture. I have particulary enjoyed being a Seattle area native the past two weeks. I have run around Sioux Falls looking for people with whom I can enjoy the game, share the excitement and beam some civic pride (a difficult venture here). Thank you to the friends who will share those moments with me. I'm not sure what they're getting into. I want my team to win the game only because even though I want to remain distinct as a native of the Pacific Northwest, I wish that somehow that Seattle will not always be seen as culturally or morally inferior. I'm not sure a football game can accomplish that--but when more people tune in to the Super Bowl than any other event during the year--the Super Bowl is as good a shot as any.

I talked with my 83-year old grandmother the other day--she said to me "I never gave up on the Seahawks." I can't say that I did, either, although following the Seahawks these days is more difficult considering my Sunday obligations... My grandmother and I watched many Seahawks games together over the years. This national stage allows me special reflection over relationships in my life and a means to relate and share. Sports have provided a context for my family to become closer--an entry point to other conversations about the stuff of life.

Regardless of the outcome, I will be on the phone with my siblings and family about the meaning of this game for weeks to come--we are all meaning-seeking creatures. This meaning-making creature is ready to enjoy the game.


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