Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cult of the 12th Man

Being a non-football fan while the Seahawks are in the playoffs is kind of like being a Buddhist at Christmas.

Right now people across the Pacific Northwest are gearing up for the big game (against who I do not know).  Whole families dressed in 12th Man gear are flooding the grocery stores to stock up on chips and drinks and anything decorated in blue and green.  Faces are painted and flags are flying. Meanwhile, at the Graf house, we are spending a lazy Saturday watching movies and reading.  Not a single Seahawk logo to be seen.  Why, oh why, does everyone else seem ga-ga over this sports team, but we could care less?

Last year as the Seahawks played their way to the Super Bowl, I wrote a piece about my ambivalence for the game  ("Only the Lonely").  It's not that I hate it, I just don't get it.  And quite honestly, the crowds of people decked out in team gear everywhere I go is starting to creep me out a little.  Is this a cult or something?

Merriam-Webster defines "cult" (in the non-religious sense) as:
 a :  great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or    book); especially :  such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
 b :  the object of such devotion

 c :  a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

So yeah, it's a cult. (Except for the small group part.)

When I googled "why do people like football?" I came across this article at that claims it's mostly testosterone.  All that charging and tackling and manly behavior.  Also it gives guys something to bond over.  But what about the women?  I know plenty of females who love the actual game itself just as much as they love the socializing that goes with it.  Who knows what sort of chromosome I am missing that prevents me from bonding with football. (Though my siblings claim it's further proof I was secretly adopted.)

Sure, I see everyone getting behind the local team who's winning.  And, hey, think of all the tax revenue it's bringing to our state (Seahawks win = more money for schools!) And I think many of the team's players are very fine inividuals:  from weekly visits to Seattle's Children Hospital, to their time spent with the local  Marysville Pilchuck team that was devastated by the shooting at their school, these men really have shown how to be a sports hero.

So there's this giant, happy blue and green cult going on and I just don't fit in.  I will never a member, I will never drink the kool aid. But somehow I ended up in a place where everyone not only gets it, but LOVES it.  Sometimes to the extreme.  From the  couple named their baby girl "Cydnee Leigh 12th Mann", to the guy who got the Seahawk logo stamped on his prosthetic eyeball.  And yes I know die-hard football fans everywhere do crazy things, but usually I don't have to live among them.

The bright side of all this for the non-football fan:  come game time the grocery store is practically deserted.  I can happily trip up and down the produce aisle with nary a sighting of those blue and green jerseys.  Just a few stragglers who forgot dip.  And to those tardy few 12th Men (and Women) I can shake my head and smile.  Yes, you, the 12th Man, just paid for my kids' education.