I will say at the jump that I am not standing on any soapbox as I write this. As horrible as it may sound, I am a little conflicted about parts of this topic. I hate seeing opposing fans at the CLink. It is infuriating to see some of those fans come into our stadium and talk smack, cheer in Seahawks fans faces, and be intentionally provocative. I have been the guy that snickers when other Seahawks fans throw peanuts or popcorn kernels at opposing fans, especially the ones that are being obnoxious. I rag on opposing teams, if not the fans themselves. I would never try to intimidate anyone, but I can’t say I want them to feel totally comfortable buying tickets for my team’s home games.
Reading the article in today’s Seattle Times about the group of mixed 49ers and Seahawks fans that were harassed at last week’s game got me thinking again about this topic that has been bouncing around my head all season. Seahawks football is about to get extremely popular. A whole new generation of fans are going to be born in the coming years. We are already known for our noise. What else will we be known for? How will we handle prosperity?
Ask a Huskies fan what it is like to watch a game in Autzen stadium. I have been there. I have seen human urine thrown on people. I consider Ducks fans to among the worst example of sportsmanship in the world, and I’m an Oregonian. There are some similar parallels, though, to the Ducks football history and that of the Seahawks. Both were mired in mediocrity for decades. Both fan bases carry a major chip on their shoulders about lack of national respect. Oregon fans add a frustration about lack of regional respect with big brother Seattle getting whatever scant attention comes the way of the Northwest. Ducks fans took on a persona of “Fuck YOU!” It was their party, and they will pee if they want to. When U of O broke through and became an annual BCS power, there was an opportunity for Ducks fans to act like they had been there before. There was a chance to drop their baggage, and just revel in their new-found success. Instead, they have become the tacky nouveau riche. They are the guys buying lime green Ferraris that screech to a halt in front of the restaurant while someone with ten times the money strolls in unnoticed and knows the entire service staff. Class is something you know when you see it, and most certainly when you do not.
There have been multiple incidents at Seahawks games this year. Even law enforcement officials have been guilty of bad behavior. This Seahawks team may be on the edge of a historic run, one that should last for years beyond this season. It will be tempting to gloat and shove it in the faces of all the opposing fans and national media that belittled the team for so long. And frankly, a little chest pounding after 36 years is probably warranted.
Where I think I will try to do a better job of drawing the line is when there are kids around. I have made the conscious decision to leave my boys at home because I think NFL games are PG-13, at a minimum. That said, it made my stomach turn reading the accounts of those 14-year old 49er fans getting screamed at and intimidated both outside and inside CLink. I don’t want anything to do with that. My team winning is where I find the joy. I’d be lying if I said I won’t always enjoy seeing the Seahawks make an opposing fan shut their yapper with a big play. I’d also be lying if I said I am ever going to be happy to see an opponents jersey in our stadium. It is important to me, however, that Seattle Seahawks fans are known for noise and class. As the 12th Man is appreciated tomorrow, consider what you want that 12 flag to stand for in the coming years, and start making it happen.