October 31, 2009

Jealousy and Dread

I have only the most casual interest in soccer, but I think I'm more into it than the average American sports fan. I watch the World Cup pretty closely, and if a Premiere League game is on, I won't change the channel. I've even been to 7-8 MLS games in Columbus, but mostly for "buck-a-brat" nights.

I was happy to see the Sounders succeed this season, but I've also had some less charitable feelings towards Seattle's MLS team. Mostly, I'm jealous of their instant rise to respectability and their status as the "cool" sports team in Seattle now. A huge number of my friends have Sounders season tickets, and some have gotten into it enough to start talking shit about the Seahawks.

Of course, that REALLY pisses me off, because it brings back the bad old days from 95-02 when Mariners fans would OPENLY piss on me for being a Seahawks fan. I remember I was out for a visit right after 9/11, and on the following Sunday, I was supposed to go to the Seahawks/Chiefs game, but it was postponed until the end of that season.

I was out at breakfast with a friend, and I was lamenting the fact that there wasn't a game that day. I understood why there was no game, but watching the Seahawks would have cheered ME up, at least. This total stranger in Mariners garb decides to chime in with "pffft. Seahawks? Who gives a crap about THEM?"

With murder in my eyes, I said "I do. And when did you get that M's gear? October of '95?"

So yeah, I'm hyper-sensitive to the Seahawks being anything but #1 on the Seattle sports landscape. I think it would be great if the Sounders won the MLS Cup, but part of me would be upset about a team winning it all in their first season, while my Seahawks are still waiting for a title after 33 years in the NFL. I just hope they don't lose to a team wearing Steelers colors (The Crew) in the MLS Cup because of awful officiating.

Back to our Seahawks: I'd love to give a pep talk, but I feel nothing but absolute dread about this game on Sunday. I'm going to go to a bar and watch, as always, but I'm not excited about it. I feel like I'm going in for a root canal or an IRS audit, not to watch my favorite team play. I'm watching more out of loyalty and obligation than because of any realistic hope the Seahawks will win the game.

...and that's the insanity of my fandom. If I was rational, I'd dump the struggling Seahawks, and pop on a Sounders FC jersey. I'm much more likely to enjoy the thrill of victory from Seattle's soccer team right now, and each Seahawks loss is like a dagger jabbing into my mind. However, if I did that, I'd feel like the biggest doucheschmuck of all time.

I'm not trying to hate on Sounders fans, particularly those of you in Seattle. It's hard to slap the "bandwagoner" label on fans of a first-year team, and that's not what I'm trying to do. But for me personally, adopting the Sounders seems oddly disloyal.

Yeah, that probably sounds crazy. Maybe I should up my meds.


Toftie said...

As someone with season tickets to both the Sounders and the Seahawks I have to chime in. I totally understand your hesitation to get "happy for" the Sounders fans. It does almost feel like cheating for some reason. But I have such respect for the supporter clubs this year that have really pulled it out right. They work their asses off to be the best supporters they can be, with the banners, the endless clever chants, the organized plans, and the devotion. Total respect from me.

I come in excited to be a part of it, but it has definitely caused me to be sad when I attend my Seahawks games. There just isn't that same comraderie. We don't have chants, we don't seem to be allowed flags or banners (and it doesn't seem like we care to), and the most we ever feel united on as fans is when we are trying to cause a false start (which we are excellent at doing).

So a part of me really wants the Seahawks fans to come together and show how much we love our team in rain or shine. Perhaps it's because of the GA section for the Sounders where you get special treatment (chanting, drums, and flags are allowed there during play) and more affordable tickets. I don't know. It's also a different audience. Young urban professionals in general vs. the Seahawks suburban blue collar. Of course this is a huge generalization, but even when you see the crazy face painted guys, it's almost like they are trying to draw attention to the support they are giving solely versus how Sounders fans like to be a group of supporters together that are all about the team. Does that make sense? More of a community.

That said, I do really love that culture of tailgate heaven. That's where you see some community. Although marching into the stadium with all the Sounders fans chanting just feels more like a connected front.

I've said enough. I love them both.

Eric said...

Neither the Seahawks, nor Sounders, nor Mariners, will ever take a spot higher than another in my heart. They will be equal as long as they exist in Seattle. I often layer my jerseys these days, with the Seahawks jersey over the Mariners jersey over the Sounders jersey. Even if the Sounders find immediate success (though they kind of already have by winning the Open Cup)they will still be on an equal playing field with the two teams that haven't made it in three decades of existence, and I will cheer for them all the louder.

Zem said...

I love how we are trying not to trample on the Sounders "fans". Its easy to root for an expansion team, lets see where they are when the team strugggles, is the 30,000 fans going to twindle to 5 and 10,000 like the rest of the MLS? most likely. Seattle is a hipster, bandwagon town.

There is a part of me that feels good about the fact that the city of Seattle, Safeco aside, has three teams, the Huskies, Seahawks and Sounders with astounding home field advantages, I like the atmosphere of the Sounders games.

However, I cannot stand the elitism that comes with a lot of Sounders fans around here, parading around like dedicated fans in THE FIRST SEASON, acting like soccer is an art form, and football is nothing but a game for blue collar neanderthals, trampling on the grave of our deceased and forgotten Sonics,

They forget whose stadium they are playing in, whining about the need for grass so the Sounders can play on grass, even though a grass field in Seattle would complete deteriorate with the excessive use and we'd get something that looks like Gillette Stadium, a mish mosh of turn and torn up sod tearing acls left and right. Oh, I almost forgot, the MLS Cup in Qwest Field, that causes the Seahawks to endure three consecutive road games in November. Beautiful isn't it?

The bandwagonism, the endless binge of self importance, and pure arrogance of their fans continuously grates my nerves.

Even the previous comment on this thread, stressing the unity of the Sounders fans and the lack of unity by the Seahawks fans. Once again, come talk to me in thirty years, lets see how many of you are left. In a League where home field advantage is rendered moot, through long, extensive television timeouts, the pricing out of fans to the upper deck, the Seahawks crowd is an ode to the past, thunderous, riotious fans sitting in the first level, that south end zone, the "face painters" as you called them, do not dress for attention, they dress to support their team, had you been to one of the many blacked out games in the mid 90's, you would've seen them, same garb as always. Its not about getting on TV, its not about riding the bandwagon, its about the love for a team, not an idea, or the need to be attached to the next big thing, or the flavor of the week. Thanks for letting me rant. Go Hawks.

Eric said...

Wow Zem, I can't say I think much of your logic. As it is the Sounders have broken every conceivable attendence record MLS has ever seen. It isn't likely to decrease any time soon considering that Washington State has the highest number and highest percentage of participants in soccer leagues around the entire country. There is no question that there are some bandwagon-jumpers, but trying to say that it's easy to root for an expansion team is just wrong, especially considering that most expansion teams suck for a long time, turning away fans.
On the stadium, the building was built in part to lure an MLS team to Seattle. It even says on the outside of the stadium "Football-Soccer Stadium". Stop whining about the road games also. The Seahawks haven't won a road game in over a year, so playing them all at once isn't going to make much of a difference, and it's about the one time that MLS takes precedent over any other sport in America. I think the Sounders would be more than willing to schedule a few road games if the Super Bowl were held here.
While I am not among the "face painters" as you called them (I honestly can't stand them) I take offense to your characterization of them as a bunch of attention seekers. The Sounders have been around for over 30 years, and a number of the people in the ECS are among those who supported the team when they were in the USL, which is even tougher than rooting for an occasionally mediocre football team.
Like I said, I love all my teams equally, but I will not tolerate attacks on any of them. Do not assume that this thing will go away, because Seattle is most certainly a Soccer town. It was back in the NASL days, and it still is now

Zem said...

I think you got my characterization of the face painters mixed up with the previous comment, I was defending the Seahawks fans that don attire. Quote from my previous comment
"the "face painters" as you called them, do not dress for attention,"

It also is extremely easy to root for an expansion team in the first year because of the newness factor. Look at the attendance of most expansion teams in their first year. Or look at a teams attendance in a new stadium, its the idea of going to see something new. Safeco Field sold out nearly every single game in 1999 when they were opened in mid July to September. Why? It was the place to be, everyone wanted to see the new digs, the team sucked. Do some research.

Did you actually read my comment? Or try and turn my idea into something you could attack? How many times did I mention that the Sounders attendance will drop in the coming years?

In comparison to being a Seahawks fan, cheering for an expansion team is much easier, there really isn't an emotional bond forged over time, and its the first season, as I said earlier, its new, its special, its fun, winning is secondary, its not till the end of year 2 or year 3 where fans really care about winning.

I didn't attack the Sounders, I attacked the fans. Once again, read the post.

As for the legions of dedicated sounders fans that have been with them since the NASL days...how many is that? About 2500? Are we talking about the same team that occasionally would get four or five hundred fans at their matches?

Fact: It is tougher to win on the road than at home in the NFL.
Fact: Because of the MLS Cup the Seahawks have to play three road games in a row.
Fact: The Super Bowl is one Sunday, not three.
Fact: The Seahawks won a road game ten months ago, hardly over a year. Nitpicking, but get your facts straight.
Fact: The Sounders play over 30 games, the Seahawks 16, a single game in the NFL remains more important and scheduling remains a huge factor.

And isn't breaking an MLS attendance record kind of meaningless? Hasn't the MLS struggled horribly with attendance ever since its inception?

You tell me that Seattle is the soccer capital of the country, as if I do not live here and didn't know that, and haven't played my fair share of soccer as well. However, soccer has been huge in the Seattle area for decades, and has failed to adequately support the Sounders until now, when everyone leaps upon the bandwagon.

I never said it isn't impressive that they have such "large" crowds, but to say that Seattle is a soccer town, when they average 25,000 for a soccer game, and not a football town, where on any particular weekend you can find a total of 100,000 people at high school football games on Friday nights across the area, 72,000 people in Husky Stadium on Saturdays, and 67,000 people in Seahawks stadium on Sunday, is...in a word...foolish.