How I Became a Football Fan

When new acquaintances ask the inevitable question of where I’m from, there’s that momentary struggle to convey my background adequately. I was born on the East Coast, spent my formative years in California, went to college in Chicago, and now live in Seattle, for the time being. Sure, it’s not to say that I’ve been entirely itinerant in my location in the near past, and my location schizophrenia certainly applies to a great proportion of recent college graduates I know. But I suppose it’s a combination of the locational disconnect from the communities I used to be a part of and still being in that transient stage of young adulthood which make me a little jarred from living here, there, everywhere.

Alors, bref. Suffice it to say, despite my great liking for travelling and living in different places, my inner self is still a bit disoriented from my nomadic ways.

Football is something I’d never thought I’d enjoy in a million years. From playing volleyball in middle school and being on the sidelines of football games in high school as part of the pep band, I certainly understand the draw of the competitive spirit, rooting for your team. I appreciate how important it is to society; there is arguably no other cultural force that unites quite as rapidly, quite as strongly. There is pretty much no other establishment, so ubiquitous, that acts out fake war to dissipate aggression in a harmless manner. But from a confluence of factors–as an Asian-American girl who went to the University of Chicago, whose football field and team were buried, quite literally, under the present behemoth of a library–I was predisposed not to like football too much.

But I arrived in Seattle at a time where Seahawks pride was at an all-time high, where Paul Allen’s investments have paid off and yielded two voyages to the Superbowl. The pride is so consuming that previously non-football fans like myself can’t help being pulled into the current of the whirlpool.

It’s the buildings around the city with blue and green lights beamed on their exterior surfaces. It’s the huge “12” flag flapping atop the Space Needle. It’s the guy on the bus with a blue and green bird plushie sewed onto his beanie. It’s the little kids with the blue and green hairspray. It’s all the businesses with their flashing marquees set to “Go Hawks” and “We are 12.” It’s all the buses with more of the same with the addition of pixelated images of the Seahawks logo. It’s the girls participating with their themed nail art and football shaped earrings. It’s the cry heard from miles around, when the Seahawks had their amazing comeback at the playoffs against the Green Bay Packers.

It’s me hawking (no pun intended) Seahawks gear prizes when I call bingo when volunteering at the Bailey-Boushay House, a home for HIV-positive individuals. It’s the phlebotomists at the blood donation center with their jerseys, their blue and green Mardi Gras beads, and one particularly creative lady with her electric blue wig and false eyelashes (which I blearily fixate on as blood exits my veins). It’s when I had to stop by the party store three times to find Seahawks plates and napkins to send to my boss in Kenya, with packs of 8 plates priced at $6.99 each. It’s the global reach of the pride that spans socioeconomic lines, from billionaires like Allen down to the homeless tuned in to their portable TVs on the street.

On any given day, you can walk down the street and yell out “Seahawkkks!” to any passers-by with their College Navy and Action Green colored Seahawks paraphernalia on. A knowing glance and a resounding echo will be shot right back at you.

It’s these little things that make me feel, at least for the moment, connected to the world around me.

Happy Superbowl Sunday, everybody. Go Hawks!

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Filed under Cities, Sports, Vignettes

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