Seattle is a football town. Yes, on first blush people would probably associate us with a myriad of other things. Espresso, evergreen trees, grunge music, IPAs, pot shops, hipsters, airplanes, technology, brilliant grad students, etc. All those things, but probably not football.
So, in this not-football, football town, myself and nearly three-quarters of a million of my closest friends crowded into downtown Seattle, in the freezing cold (25F is pretty cold for us) to welcome home our conquering victorious heroes. It was a truly momentous occasion and one I’ll probably remember for a long time to come.
There are lots of things to be said about the Super Bowl (World Champions? Seriously?), football in general, and America’s manic heroism of sports culture. All those things can be said, have been said, and will be repeated for eons to come, and yet, over the past few weeks I’ve watched an entire city join together and rally around a common cause. Here, this is something really special; Seattle is a city of many cultures, divided along many lines, and undergirded with a deeply rooted sense of individualism, nothing is easier then finding your own community (for they almost all exist up here in one form or another) and diving in with nary a thought for the wide world around you. It’s not that the city is bubbling under with racial tensions, or open animosity, it’s that people tend to view each other with a kind of cool detachment. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine, everyone wins. But over the last few weeks, I’ve seen the ’12’ flag flown from the Space Needle, and the 787 hanger a Boeing field. I’ve seen the ‘I’m in’ posters hanging in the coffee bars, and sports bars alike, and I’ve heard the call and response of: ‘SEA’ ‘HAWKS’ echo in the University quads, and the bus stops in Belltown. In a city where people ride the transit in solitude, perfect strangers have struck up conversations over what Richard Sherman really meant, or if the Denver line will be completely powerless in the face of the ‘Beastquake’ (spoiler: they were).
This city, united, set the record for loudest crowd ever. Then did it again. This city set off the seismic alarms when Marshawn Lynch scored against New Orleans (Sorry Bressus). And this city, packed 700,000 people (for reference our population is about 620,000) from all walks of life (the Public School system reported that nearly 25% of their teachers were absent along with 30% of their students) onto 4th avenue, broke into chants of ‘Pete, Pete, Pete!’ when Carroll came by, and threw Skittles back and forth with Lynch. All while the 12th man flags waved from fans, players, and National Guard trucks alike.
So, while in the end it may just be football. Ok, it is just football, and when they hoisted the trophy above the crowd I did channel my inner Colbert and shout: ‘Bow before your god Babylon!’ And yes, tomorrow things will largely go back to the way things were, but for a brief moment of time I saw an image of a city united with a common thread that cut across the various sub-cultures of the city and bound it together no matter how loosely. And while it may be a fleeting victory, I think, in the end, I’m going to let them have this one.