There’s a guy at my gym who fancies himself as somewhat of a philosopher. His podium is the sauna, where he knows he has a captive audience of helpless people who have no other place to get a good sweat.
I call him “Sauna Sam” and he adds as much to the world’s philosophical endeavors as I do to nuclear engineering. The beauty of Sauna Sam is that the more conviction he has about a topic, the less he actually knows about it.
How does this relate to football? Bear with me a moment.
For some reason, I have no actual downloaded media on my phone. I live in an all-stream kind of world I suppose. And of course, there’s no internet in the sauna. So how annoying is Sauna Sam? I will actually put on my headset, open up video games on my phone, and listen to the minute long introductory music from the game’s home screen 10 times rather than listen to Sam.
So yesterday I’m fumbling around, desperately trying to find a game with a loud soundtrack, and before I can get there, I have to hear Sam’s latest rant, directed at no one in particular other than that poor sap that made the mistake of making eye contact and now was looking for a back door to sneak out of.
Sam is ranting about how the mainstream media has brainwashed all the pacifists and progressive minds in Seattle to support a sport that is all about barbarianism. He mocks Seattle for spending their money to placate millionaires and billionaires running a fascist business in which people purposely and willfully attempt to hurt each other.
Being the open minded soul that I am, I tried to embrace this line of thought. Concussions are certainly a bad thing. Domestic Violence is definitely bad. Shootings, drug use, steroids, these are all negative things that NFL players can become known for.
So then I looked at the other side. There are very few times in my life when I have felt such irrational exuberance as I did Sunday afternoon in Century Link. At several moments in that game, I shared emotions with 65,000 other people. Surprise at an early Russel Wilson interception, relief that the Packers only had 2 field goals, depression on the interception with 5:00 left, hope when the Seahawks got the ball back, excitement when they scored, celebration when they got the onside kick, pure disbelief when they took the lead, a nervous sigh when they gave up the field goal, a tempered optimism when they won the overtime coin flip, and unbridled jubilation when they got the touchdown.
That my friends, is a roller coaster of human emotions. And I didn’t go through them by myself. I had 65,000 neighbors with me. Throughout those last 5:00, all of strangers hugged, high-fived, stared open mouth in disbelief, danced and smiled like we just learned how.
So obviously, I am one of the brain washed. One of the NFL’s minions who receive joy from watching grown men fight on a field of battle. Right, Sam?
Well I think that idea is garbage. Football is dangerous, not all of the players are upstanding citizens and there are definite health risks you take by being hit by large, structurally sound men in return for a million dollar paycheck.
But barbaric? The Roman Colosseum was barbaric. Dog fighting is barbaric. Football is dangerous. Football takes bravery. But no one is supposed to die playing football.
All of the players on that field were doing things that you and I could never imagine doing. The discipline and training it takes is more than we can comprehend. The 65,000 people sitting in Century Link, and the hundreds of thousands watching at home, wanted their team to be braver, stronger, faster and smarter than the other guys risking their health to win a game. And not just this week, but over the last 18 weeks.
But these are our guys. And we’re proud that they wear a Seattle jersey. And so we will do whatever small part we can to contribute. That means being loud when the team needs a pick me up. It means being louder when we can affect the other team. It means losing all sanity and rational thought and truly believing we are part of the team, the collective 12th man.
And that’s what the team means to the city. We all have our different political views, jobs, education, etc… But Seattleites – and the region around us – all have a singular bond if we choose to embrace it. We are the 12th Man. Together. It makes us stronger as a city, and closer as a population.
It’s too bad Sauna Sam wants to focus on the negative. He is really missing out on how cool it is to be part of this community.