Super Bowl XLIX: Stranger in a strange land

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Photo above: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson during the team press conference. (Claudia Gestro)

Katy Perry at her press conference before Super Bowl XLIX. (Claudia Gestro)
Katy Perry at her press conference before Super Bowl XLIX.
(Claudia Gestro)

A Personal Glimpse Into a Seattle Resident’s Super Bowl Sunday

For most of my life I’ve lived in Seattle and yet the last four months had me feeling like an alien. All the Seahawks hype was, for someone with little athletic ability and even less sports knowledge, overwhelming, to say the least.

I watched the Super Bowl while coloring with my young niece and nephew. Expecting a blatant and crushing Hawks victory and not at all enthused at the prospect of watching a Katy Perry-centered halftime show, I came expecting to be bored. However, as anyone who watched the game knows, boredom and prophecies became all but impossible during the second half. And, shockingly … I cared.

Lately, even the workplace had become a place of Seahawks mania. The school hallway, usually housing every irritatingly bright color known to man, was now a sea of blue and green. Whether it was artwork, snacks, jewelry, hair or construction paper, there was no mistaking whose team we were rooting for. With some trepidation, I wore my one and only Seahawks shirt and hand warmers to work one day. I vowed to never wear them again.

A Seattle Seahawks fan at NFL Central in Phoenix, AZ the day before the big game. (Claudia Gestro)
A Seattle Seahawks fan at NFL Central in Phoenix, AZ the day before the big game.
(Claudia Gestro)

Within minutes, my fear of football-themed social interaction was realized. Someone approached me as we supervised recess activities and began a roughly four minute long conversation about football playoffs, deflated balls, star power and coaching techniques, to which I tried my very best to respond appropriately. It felt like a fifteen-minute conversation, despite the pleasantries, and yet I left it feeling unnaturally closer to that coworker.

Meanwhile, the city was (and remains) in a whole other world of temporary unrest, unity and implicit dress codes. From Starbucks baristas to McDonald’s employees, people wore their Seahawks gear, made Seahawks small talk, lit Seahawks colored lights and served Seahawks themed products. As an artistic, bookworm, “sportnostic” geek who had been in the Portland area during last year’s football season, I’d never realized the true nature of citywide, NFL based alliance.

Like a socially inept recluse who’s just realized that people respond positively to smiles and eye contact, I feel like I’ve gained an invaluable human insight: I know one of the primary reasons why people love sports, and the rationale is not as nutty as I’d assumed.

Seattle Seahawks Fans at Media Day,  (Claudia Gestro)
Seattle Seahawks Fans at Media Day,
(Claudia Gestro)

Major sports events are like wars without spilled blood (well, less blood and notably less death), without the destruction, without the severe political upheaval, but with all of the heroism and expansive camaraderie and region-centric pride.

Funny enough, I learned all this the year my team lost. I broke down and returned to my place of employment the following day in my Seahawks shirt and hand warmers once more, to show some support for a team that put up a damn good fight (and I’m not talking about the post-game brawl). It turns out that losing the Super Bowl brought us arguably closer than winning ever has.

Go Hawks!