Sunday, November 14, 2010

Don't Stop Believing

Rain-soaked weekends in the Northwest make for great opportunities to cozy up on the couch with the family and bust out a few tunes on Rock Band. We celebrated a HawkBloggerKid early morning soccer victory yesterday with a rousing rendition of Kids in America, Livin' on a Prayer, and Eye of the Tiger, before moving on to the contemporary with Unthought Known. I woke up this morning with two things stuck in my head: the karaoke classic Don't Stop Believing, and the thought that I'm really having trouble following the song's advice when it comes to this Seahawks season.

For all the passion and love I have for Seahawks football, I have had to develop a pragmatic side over the years. It used to be that I could pour myself into my sports without reservation. When the teams won, nobody on Earth was happier or more fun to be around. When my teams lost, the opposite was true. Being an emotional powder keg became untenable after adding HawkBloggerWife, HawkBloggerKid1&2, and HawkBloggerCareer into the mix. I used to lose a whole day, sometimes a whole week to the anger and frustration after a bad loss. It would cast a shadow over everything. At some point, I learned that I needed to sacrifice a little of my passion to create a bit more buffer between me and the teams I cared so much about.

Where I once watched every minute of every game, I began to turn the channel during a blowout or go take a jog to burn off some steam. Where before I might wallow in a loss by reading every article and listening to all the analysis, now I shut much of it out until the next game begins. The guilt of feeling like a fare-weather fan hung over me for the first few years of this new approach. Never did the guilt come close to competing with the happier HawkBloggerFamily this philosophical shift allowed. I still feel guilty, like when I left at halftime during the blowout last week to go watch my son's soccer game, but no longer do I worry about being a fare-weather fan. The Seahawks could 0-16 for 10 seasons, and I would still tell people they were my favorite team if asked. I have hated the Mariners teams for almost the last decade. They bore me to tears to the point where I have not watched a full game in almost two seasons, but they are still my favorite team. That's a constant.

All this brings me back to the crossroads we face today in Arizona as Seahawks fans. Most of us reasonably entered the season expecting a handful of wins, and hoping for some signs of hope in the future. Pete Carroll and Co. quickly raised our expectations beyond the reasonable. This team stood at 4-2 two weeks ago, with legitimate hopes of not only winning their division, but getting a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Crippling injuries have led to two massacres, and a 4-4 record. The team Seattle faces today has lost three in a row and has already lost to the Seahawks in Seattle. My senses tell me this Seahawks team has been hollowed out by the events of the past two weeks. My mind can't take the pieces of the shattered defense and offense and put them together into a whole that feels strong enough to be a winning team again. That pragmatic protective shield is deploying, telling me to back away slowly or risk nuclear meltdown. And while some hardcore fans may read that as blasphemy, my experience as an athlete tells me there are players and coaches on the team that are having a similar crisis of confidence.

The team can change its fate with a victory today. Winning would not be notable to anyone outside of the NFC West. The Cardinals are generally considered a crappy team that has lost three in a row. Nobody cares how much better they have played the last two weeks. Bragging about a victory over them would be like showing all your friends a dollar-winning scratch ticket. As with most things in life, though, the truth is reserved for the people that seek it. A victory today would mean the Seahawks found some new identity to hang their hats on. It would mean their resolve is strong enough to propel them back into a forward-facing path. It would mean that Russell Okung's return next week would build momentum instead of feeling like a last hope. I'm sitting here square on the fence, looking for any sign that it is safe to come back inside. Don't stop believing just yet.

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