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Feb 15, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Gary Payton waves after being announced as a 2013 hall of fame finalist during a press conference at the Hilton Americas. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Why Sports Matter to a City

I know this is a football and, more specifically, a Seahawks website but bear with me. I currently find myself in a state of severe depression. Today, the NBA has essentially told Seattle to kiss its ass. Some of you might be wondering how that relates to football, and it doesn’t. At least not directly.

What it does share with football, and any other team one might support in any city, is what it means to the common fan. People like the ones that write at sites like this for no reason other than their love of their team and the sport in general. A team provides a shared history and culture among all residents. A bond that makes no real sense when analyzed too deeply, but is felt by all of us anyway.

Five years ago, Seattle got robbed. Through a perfect storm of economic downturn, poor political representation and being sold down the river by scumbags like Howard Schultz, Seattle lost its oldest franchise. The only franchise in the city that possessed a national championship. Today, Seattle learned that despite doing nearly everything right, it would not get a team to replace the one that was stolen.

Unfortunately, the process required taking a team from another city that probably didn’t deserve to lose theirs. Nobody liked it, but that is the playbook the NBA has established. It turned out, however, that the rules had changed since Seattle lost the Sonics. Now priority was placed on teams with 28 years of incumbency, never mind that the Sonics had 41 in Seattle. No matter how much money was placed under the NBA’s nose, they simply didn’t care.

If only Seattle got the same advantages that Sacramento did when Schultz got his panties in a bunch and threw a hissy fit that he should be humiliated by until the day he dies. When Schultz decided he was unhappy he sold the team without any notice to Clay Bennett and a cartel of carpet-baggers from Oklahoma City with the help of one, douchebag David Stern. To this day, I refuse to go to Starbucks or watch an NBA game.

I honestly feel sucker punched and my stomach is in knots after Stern’s half-assed press conference this afternoon. I am utterly and thoroughly depressed and am discovering that no amount of booze is making me feel better.  I want nothing more than to introduce David Stern to a dark basement and a baseball bat.

I’m also hoping that having another team and sport I love, the Seahawks, that I might find catharsis in some way. At least maybe writing about this might give me some relief. (It hasn’t so far.) It also makes me realize how much sports matter and the civic value they provide a city and a group of people. Seattle currently has the Sounders, Seahawks, and the perpetually crappy Mariners. Seattleites are fans of some, all, or none of these teams. Nonetheless, these teams provide a way for people to support a common cause for certain parts of the year.

Seeing games live has continued to become more and more a rich person’s event. From ticket prices to concessions, it is harder for the “regular Joe” to take his kid, wife, or whoever to games the way my dad took me to Sonics games when I was young. That’s why it was amazing that Chris Hansen and Steve Balmer were willing to privately finance (through bonds) the building of a new basketball arena. Unfortunately, the NBA prefers to strong-arm and rob cities through tax financing of new arenas. Otherwise the teams will be stolen away, a la the Sonics.

Seattle is lucky to have a great owner of the Seahawks in Paul Allen. Portland is lucky to have him as owner of the Trailblazers. He values the civic nature of owning a sports franchise. To borrow a phrase from the human being that is worth less than maggots crawling in the dog crap in my front yard, a “public trust.” I feel reassured knowing that Allen is such an owner. It also makes me feel worse about what happened with the Sonics and the ever diminishing hope of their return.

Through today’s misery, I realize the importance of teams in a city. It doesn’t matter if you have one or four or even more. They all represent something unique and special. Losing one does create a hole that can’t just be filled in with one of the other franchises. And being kicked around a league or other fans makes it even worse.

A sports team can make some of the lousier periods of one’s life a little bit better. You can get together with some friends and watch a game. If the team is successful you can share that success at least vicariously and take some pride in the fact that that team is representing you and your city. It is a way to socialize and network with other fans. Sure the players are ultimately doing it for the money and glory, but as the Seahawks players realize, the 12th Man is part of it. Their success wouldn’t be as enjoyable without the fans behind them.

I realize this is a rambling post full of non sequiturs, most of which aren’t even football related but I appreciate your indulgence. I was hoping writing this would bring me some peace of mind, but it hasn’t. I still hate David Stern with all my soul. Same with Howard Schultz and Clay Bennett. I wish them misery and failure. There is a hole in my fan experience with the Sonics gone. Luckily the Seahawks’ success makes it a little better, but even they can’t fill it completely.

Today was a sad day for Seattle sports. Through the continued void of the Sonics, I have realized my passion for the Seahawks. The football season can’t start soon enough. And in the meantime, I sure wouldn’t mind if David Stern’s charter jet flew into the side of a mountain, wiping his existence from the planet.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think there might be some solace to be found at the bottom of this next bottle.

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Tags: David Stern Paul Allen Seahawks Sonics

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