Diagnosing My Seattle Sports Paranoia
Oct 30, 2011; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez raises the Seattle Seahawks 12th man flag before the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
I know I am not alone. It doesn’t get talked about much but it is there nonetheless; Seattle Sports Paranoia (SSP). I’ve written this post in four or five different ways over the last week, never really sure how to best go about it. I’ve even seen tangential brushes with SSP being covered elsewhere, such as by Dayna over at NFLfemale.com.
After last season ended, I was crushed. The roller coaster ride in Atlanta took me to ridiculous highs and ended with devastation. Eventually, though, I made peace with it and enjoyed the incredible ride the season was.
Now, with a brand new season about to start, I can think back and remember the feeling after giving San Francisco the beat-down of a life time. Of winning at Washington in the playoffs. I want to feel that again. I want Sundays to continue to be celebratory holidays where Seattle’s warriors go out and beat the representatives from another city. This isn’t “Southern Alaska,” Jimmy Asshat Johnson. THIS IS SEATTLE!! (Said, of course, in the voice of Leonidas, while kicking Jim Harbaugh down into pit of misery.) (I really need to learn how to make GIFs because this one would be great.)
There it was, though. That Seattle Sports Paranoia. We’ve been letdown as a fan base so many times that talking about it with friends is like showing old battle scars. As excited as I get, I can’t push the thought out of my head that a trap door is about to open up underneath us when we are most vulnerable. This isn’t to say that I don’t have complete faith and trust in Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and Russell Wilson. I just feel like entropic forces are stronger in Seattle for some reason.
SSP definitely diminishes when I talk about the team with other fans and listen to podcasts or radio shows that talk about the Seahawks. As soon as they’re over, though, it starts to creep back. It’s like a terminal case of self-doubt. The difference is that Seattleites internalize it, while other cities, namely ridiculously overpriced foggy ones, project this out onto others as a massive inferiority complex. Seattle wants to be great, athletically and otherwise, to the point that we don’t have to tell you how great our teams are, you just know.
It takes effort and some level of will power to tamp down what could easily be wild expectations. Seattle didn’t make one bad move in the off season. They were proactive and signed several players to fill obvious needs. It would be hard to imagine a season in which the Seahawks regress at all. But, the unimaginable has happened before and my Seattle Sports Paranoia reminds of it. The Super Bowl. The 1993 Western Conference Finals. The perpetual awfulness of the Mariners that feels like domestic abuse at this point. (And I’m not even a Mariners fan!)
For some, SSP hardens them. They become jaded and cynical. They’re fans, for sure, but always slightly aloof as a form of protection. Some are more empathetic and take big defeats and letdowns right on the chin and are temporarily a wreck. This is me. I consider people like this to be the true optimists because they felt to their core what could have been and are therefore more sad when it doesn’t happen.
Luckily, my fear and doubt have absolutely zero effect on the outcome. I know there will be a bunch of people that think I’m a Debbie downer, have no idea what I’m talking about, or think I should stay optimistic and upbeat no matter what, but that just isn’t me. It’s not how I am with areas unrelated to sports, and it sure isn’t in my nature as a Seattle sports fan. That doesn’t diminish my dedication and loyalty as a fan. Blind faith is not a measure of fandom. I was recently derided for stating that I’m now completely on the Russell Wilson bandwagon. Apparently that is virtually meaningless since I wasn’t on it from day one, like this other guy, and required some proof. To me, that’s ridiculous.
It’s okay to critically think about your team. Ultimately, we all want our team(s) to win. In doing so, you want the best players to play. I originally thought Matt Flynn was the best option. I was wrong. That makes me human, not a bad fan.
Anyway, I’m off to silence those tiny doubting voices once again. I will say, though, that when you have low expectations (not that I really do) or inklings of doubt, it make the joys of victory that much greater, and Seattle fans are in need of continued victory. It never feels better to be oh so wrong.