Tag Archives: Super Bowl

Lament of a Fair Weather Fan

Seattle Times headline today.

Seattle Times headline today.

Z and I were downtown this morning, and the city is subdued after yesterday’s Super Bowl loss. For two weeks, the mood here has been like two clicks better than Christmas—the buildings were lit up with blue and green, the “12” flags were flapping like mad…even on windless days, and almost everyone was friendly and feeling like an “us” which doesn’t happen often. The rest of the country arguably finds the Seahawks insufferable, though the perspective here in the upper northwestern corner of the country is that they’re mostly just quirky and misunderstood.

But today? The mood was the exact opposite. It’s been a sunny, warm winter, but today it was gray and rainy, and everyone downtown looked downtrodden and as if they each had their own personal rain cloud right above their heads while depressing Charlie Brown music played. If it hadn’t been so glum, it would have been hilarious.

I don’t like football.   The Sundays my father had me were spent largely in front of a televised game—the Bengals being his team, but really, any team, so long as a game was on. (The only thing worse than football season from my perspective was not-football-season when golf was  on TV. I’m convinced that the background noise in Hell is that of 24-7 golf commentary.) I didn’t like football’s loudness. I didn’t like what looked to me like meanness. And frankly, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why watching a bunch of grown men play a game on TV was more fun than playing Klomp-It or Sorry! with me during our visits with each other.

Football became briefly tolerable while I was in high school and was dating a fullback, whose rudely numbered jersey I got to wear. I went to every game and worried that he’d be hurt and couldn’t wait for the season to be over so his practices would no longer interfere with my own plans for him. Like a good football player’s girlfriend, I played “Powder Puff” the one week—homecoming—when girls were mysteriously declared eligible to play, though the truth is I didn’t know a second down from a second inning and the more athletic girls were mostly annoyed with me and both my ignorance and lack of skill.

I did love that jersey though.

As an adult, I’ve hated football for a variety of reasons in addition to the sound of it in my living room. As a reader and lover of the arts, I hate the way sports takes precedent over things I care about; I hate that the players and coaches and the industry can generate huge amounts of money for pummeling each other into concussions for fun while people teaching tiny kids or college kids, and people providing real services like secretaries and garbage collectors, are sometimes working for peanuts; I hate the above-the-law lifestyle some of the players live; I hate the games’ violence and the violence off the field, sometimes directed at loved ones;  I hate the way normally decent people can turn into real jerks based on team allegiance. It’s an ugly, ugly sport.

But then two things happened:

1) I married Z

2) I moved to Seattle.

Because I met Z a few years after his rugby days were over, I don’t think of him as particularly sporty, but he is. It’s taken some years with him illustrating how sports can enhance a life for me to understand that my anti-organized sports stance was no different than those people who thought I was a loser for constantly having my nose in a book. I have come to see that while I’m sure those athletic girls in high school thought of me as a “waste of space” standing there, mouth agape, while the football was in play, I was just as bad for pigeonholing them because I thought of them as dumb jocks. Maybe they were; maybe they weren’t, but my assumption was if they had athletic prowess, they probably weren’t so bright. Z, the Renaissance Man, has shown me the error of my ways.

And then there is Seattle. A city that is not really all that sporty. We have some teams, sure, but mostly the people here are all about reading some books and screwing around with their computers and drinking some coffee. Maybe hiking somewhere on a sunny weekend. Which somehow makes their love of the Seahawks more tolerable to me because I know it is not the sum-total of their thoughts.

Because of these two elements in my life and the Seahawks’ return to the Super Bowl, I got a little football crazy. I started seeing the beauty in a particular players moves and the remarkable skill involved in hurling a ball somewhere it needs to be or catching a ball that wasn’t meant to be caught. In the last three weeks or so, I’ve read more sports columns and watched more football clips than I have in my entire life. (The only reason I don’t have stats memorized is because I’m notoriously bad with numbers.) I started following Richard Sherman and his girlfriend on Twitter. I read every thing I could on Marshawn Lynch to better understand his reluctance to speak to the press and began to feel like I was channeling Chris Crocker, the “Leave Britney alone!” guy because I felt so defensive of Lynch. I tried to figure out ways to work “I’m just about that action Boss” into daily conversation. I worried about the injuries sustained by Seahawks in the playoffs. And I wondered what kind of gum coach Pete Carroll chews so vigorously.

Two weeks ago for the division championship, Z and I had friends over, whose 14 month old—the tiny Pippi Longstocking—we terrified with our screaming and hopping. They returned for the Super Bowl and it should have been fun watching the game with them and doing our best to convince Pippi that our cheers were all about whatever adorable thing she’d just done instead of a good play or a call in our favor, but for the most part, it was in agony—at least for me. I was a nervous wreck. I felt feverish and twitchy. What if we lost? It’s been such a fun year in a city with Super Bowl champs—I didn’t want  to turn into Super Bowl losers.

It turns out, I’d invested so much time in learning to love the Seahawks and hate the Patriots, that I’d actually begun to think the game’s outcome was important to my life. I was elated when we were ahead, depressed when we were down, and absolutely gobsmacked at the end when a game that could have been the Seahawks’ suddenly wasn’t because of the most head-scratchingly bad play imaginable. The air was sucked right out of the room when Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted and we all knew the game was over. Pippi started to cry, and though it was her bedtime, I can’t help but feel she was just expressing what all of us were feeling. Then punches started flying on the field and it all just felt so sad and, well, stupid.

The day before the Super Bowl, Z and I were tooling around in a rental car, musing about the NFL and the brain injury issues and some of the other disturbing elements  tied to football, and he said, “You know, we talk about the Romans at the Colosseum like it was barbaric, but we really aren’t as far removed from it as we think we are.” Instantly, I got sucked back ten years, standing in the Colosseum with my cousin G, praying the tour would end soon because the place gave me the heebie-jeebies and I wanted to escape it. Some might argue it was all in my mind (though this was before I saw Gladiator or HBO’s “Rome” so there wasn’t really much in my mind other than a childhood image of a Christian being treated like a human cat toy), but I think there are vibes there—not just of terrified people being torn apart by gladiators or wild animals but of frenzied crowds cheering to see the spectacle, wanting to align themselves with the victors instead of the losers.

It’s a dark, dark place, the Colosseum.

When the game was over yesterday, I told Z that was it. I’m done. Football is over for me. I can’t do this to myself next year, this getting my life all tangled up with the performance of a bunch of men I don’t know, many of whom are only as loyal to the team as their next contract negotiation. Watching a sporting event should not require benzodiazepines. It’s a game. And even if the Seahawks had won yesterday? I’m not getting a Super Bowl ring for all my attention and cheering. So, I’m hanging up my “12” hat and going back to the books and the “30 Rock” binge watching on Netflix.

Except today, when I read that Vegas is already saying Seattle is the favorite to win Super Bowl 50 next year? My heart did the tiniest of flutters.

Cure for the Common Cold

12th Man Cupcakes from Cupcake Royale. Yum.

12th Man Cupcakes from Cupcake Royale. Yum.

Now that I’m not in the classroom teaching college students (aka the world’s germiest people), I almost never get colds. When we got back from Vancouver, Z succumbed to one, which is always a sad thing because a) Z should always feel great and b) I am the world’s worst caregiver. I’ve got no real domestic skills, and so I spend way more time lecturing him on the merits of Kleenex vs. hankies instead of fixing him steaming bowls of chicken soup and fluffing his pillows. I once brought him borscht from the Russian pierogi shop up the street when he had a stomach flu, which I discovered is not a good idea. My most recent care-giving faux pas was just last night. He was suffering with a sinus headache, and so I gave him a head massage with Aveda Blue Oil (love this stuff!) and got some of its minty goodness in his eye. He spent the rest of the night blinking furiously. I kept insisting that it wasn’t the Blue Oil and my ministrations that had caused the trail of tears on his cheeks, but instead attributed it to the strong emotion he was feeling about a particularly dramatic song one of the Olympic ice princesses was skating to.

All week, Z blew his nose and walked around the house wearing sunglasses for his headache and a furry blanket wrapped around his neck and torso, looking kind of like an eccentric drug kingpin. Meanwhile, all week I was crowing about my amazing immune system and how rarely I succumb to things like the common cold now that I’m not grading 400+ coughed-upon papers a semester. And then Saturday evening as Z was starting to feel like himself—the night before the big game and the little party we were having at which I planned to cheer on the Seahawks and hold (and hog) the new baby belonging to our friends—my nose started running.

Boooo. BOOOOOO. If you’ve been wondering why there wasn’t a gloating post-Bowl post, it’s because I was either blowing my nose or napping for the last week.

I am not really a sports fan, and most years when we watch the Super Bowl, I’m in it for the commercials. But this year I was surprised to discover that I’d caught a case of Seahawks fever. I still have no idea what “off sides” means and when the announcer says someone has “taken a knee” I expect to see the extra players praying on the sidelines, so I’m not claiming to be a #1 fan here. But when you live in a city with a team and see some of the players on the cheesy local commercials for things like plumbing and when you can hear the touchdown cannon go off whilst sitting on your very own sofa, it’s hard not to feel . . . involved.

Plus, I’ve discovered via the magic of the interwebs that the Seahawks are one of the most disliked teams in the country, and for some reason this makes me feel kind of protective of them. They’re clearly loved here—there has been a gross misappropriation of office Post-Its to make 12th Man flags in blue and green in the windows all over town—but mention the Seahawks to someone outside of Puget Sound and you’ll see actual lips curl.

Obviously, the Seahawks were not depending on me so my cold didn’t really affect the outcome of the game, but I did miss out on serious baby-holding time. The baby in question—who I will call Pippi (as in Longstocking) here because she has a hint of red hair, Scandinavian heritage, and what I believe will be a fierce heart and vivid imagination—still came over, but I had to just sort of peer at her in her little Seahawks onesie from a distance and promise not to sneeze in her general direction. As it turned out she only spent the first half of the game with us as her parents decided that Baby’s First Super Bowl was slightly less important than Baby’s First—and probably only—Trip to Costco When No One Else is There.  Because they left us with half a dozen 12th Man cupcakes from Cupcake Royale, I forgave them the early departure.

The city went a little nuts, which was kind of fun mainly because the crowd stayed well behaved. (Often when groups of people get together in Seattle, someone decides they’re an anarchist and starts breaking windows.) I was grateful for the cold because it gave me an excuse to stay indoors and just peer through the blinds at the whooping and hollering that went on well into the night and on into the next day. And the next. And the next. Wednesday evening I heard a guy under our windows randomly yell, “Seahawks!”

Since we only live a few blocks from the victory parade route, Z and I decided to pop down to see a little of it on Wednesday before he had to head to work for a meeting. I still had a cold and it was freezing out, but it was sunny so I put on extra layers of clothes, including two hats, and off we went. We stood half a block from the parade route and waited. We watched people. We waited. I checked my email. We waited. Then we got word that the parade was going to start almost an hour late. Z had a meeting to go to and my nose was starting to run more furiously, so we posted a photo of ourselves “at the parade” on Facebook and trudged back up the hill, feeling a little dejected to miss out but also a little relieved to be heading back into the warm. Z went to work and I curled up in my chair under a blanket and watched the parade on TV.

A parade without floats and drill teams just does not engage me. I want scenes made of roses or giant balloons, but this parade involved only the Seahawks and their entourage riding around on the amphibious “Ride the Ducks” tour busses, throwing Skittles and beads to the crowd. The game was over, and as I watched people on TV scream and climb trees, I couldn’t remember exactly what all the fuss was about. My brain started asking big questions, like, Would there be a parade this frenetic if this were a women’s football team? Or, Would there be a parade if someone from Seattle won the Pulitzer?

After half an hour, I was bored and had my nose stuck in a book.

I’m not sure what my prognosis is. The Fever has subsided for now, but there’s a possibility it will return in the fall. We’ll have to wait and see.

Crowd waiting for the Seahawks victory parade.

Crowd waiting for the Seahawks victory parade.