It is football season, in case you haven’t noticed, and the Seattle Seahawks are off to an abysmal start. Besides our most highly touted rookie, linebacker Aaron Curry, there are very few bright spots on the team. Our offensive line is absolutely decimated by injuries. Five different left tackles have started in six games so far, and their performances have mirrored the Emerald City weather; they have been bleak. Our quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, has produced fluky success that occasionally inspires cheering but regularly induces wincing. Julius Jones has proven that he is not talented enough to gain yardage completely on his own without the help of veteran blocking on the line. Last Sunday, against the NFC Champion Cardinals, the Seahawks broke a team record for least rush yards in a single game with 14. Seattle fans should be embarrassed by what is happening; we should be scalping our season tickets and playing golf instead; we should be doing something productive instead of remaining emotionally invested in a team that everyone knows is going nowhere. I, for one, should not be glued to the TV on beautiful Sunday afternoons watching our team get pummeled by seemingly stronger, faster, more talented players. But I can’t help it.
Blind hope, like blind faith, is an ugly cologne. It is so unrealistic, so childish, so stupid to believe in something without proof. Normally I would never condone such behavior, let alone act in such a way myself, but when it comes to Seattle sports, blind hope is about the only thing I have left. I know the Seahawks will not make the playoffs this year, but I also can’t stop believing that somehow they might pull it off. What is wrong with me?
I am, unapologetically, a huge sports fan. I even watch baseball, believe it or not, which proves that I am not only following trends, but following my love for orbs, ovals, discs, and any other type of object that is accurately and powerfully propelled but man-made force. Being from Port Townsend, I naturally pledge allegiance to the professional and non-professional teams that abide in Seattle. This, over the course of my life, has proven to be a rather fruitless and maddening allegiance. However, it has produced some unforeseen effects, which I’m beginning to be thankful for.
Resilience in the face of adversity is, indeed, a valuable characteristic. Through all the injuries, bad management and ownership, through all the seasons of biased referees, blown calls, and media conspiracies, through all the moved teams and stadium implosions, I remain steadfast. It is not easy. Sometimes I feel like a smolt in the headwaters of the Columbia. Beset on all sides by dangers unseen and unexpected, I swim with the current. Occasional tidbits—like the Week 5 game against the Jaguars—drift into my gullet and they are the only things that keep me going.
And oh how good these tidbits taste! Another benefit of being accustomed to losing is that each and every win becomes so sweet. When the Mariners or Seahawks or Sounders are in the playoff hunt, a vibe of excitement permeates the city. You don’t have to be a sports fan to notice it. Pubs have signs in their windows, hobos wear dirty hats with the team logo, coffee shops sprinkle the whipped cream on their mochas with blue and green jimmies. When our teams are winning, the grey mornings and bumper-to-bumper traffic seem more tolerable.
When we are losing, like we are right now, the rain soaked peaks seem somehow more distant, the traffic worse, the coffee not strong enough, but the blind hope remains. I—we—believe that the weather is not as bad as it seems, that the injuries will be healed, that the management will be mercifully audited, and that the players themselves will form an unbreakable bond the likes of which professional sports has never seen. It will be a bond like the bond between Seattle sports fans: a selfless, emotion-filled, idiotic hope, a belief that someday soon the breaks will all be in our favor and that the final score will too. So don’t lose hope, because someday soon that moment will come, and the last thing you’d want to do is miss it.