Seahawks Super Bowl Parade: Why it's all too much

Some great folks are on that team. But, really, a mass turnout over a 4-day-old sports event represents a loss of meaningful community.
Let me take you louder: A fan at the Seahawks Super Bowl parade.

Let me take you louder: A fan at the Seahawks Super Bowl parade. Photo illustration by Michael Hren/Flickr

Somebody has to be the skunk at the picnic, the kid who spoils the emperor’s fashion show, the morning-after pill, the 13th man. And since no else will, I’ll wear out whatever welcomes I have left in this town and say: The Seahawks Jubilee was a great bender, but it leaves a nasty hangover.

Okay, it was quite the party. Seattle can now claim to be the only city in the country to shut down for not one but two general strikes. The first, which started on this day 107 years ago, was staged over things that mattered: wages, work conditions, workers’ rights, even (in the eyes of a minority of supporters and perhaps a larger share of opponents) the prospect of another American revolution. The authorities brought in troops from Fort Lewis, deployed machine guns downtown and enlisted 3,000 extra police officers and “special deputies” (UW frat boys), but the strike proved entirely peaceful.

The Feb. 5, 2014 general strike wasn’t entirely peaceful or particularly violent; the usual rowdies and vandals carried on. Seven hundred thousand people — the largest crowd in Seattle history — packed downtown in freezing weather. That’s more than 10 times the number who walked off their jobs in 1919. Back then, the rest of the city couldn’t get to work because the streetcars shut down. This time we couldn’t because the trains and platforms were packed to bursting with riders wearing blue and green.

And for what? A football game. A four-day-old sporting event. Eleven youthful millionaires weaving around, passing over and charging through eleven slightly older millionaires. Their team’s owner, the former Rodney Dangerfield of multibillionaires, now gets tons of respect, even love, for “giving” Seattle its first bowl title and second “world championship.” No one bothers to remember how he unctuously (“I can’t do it without you”) extorted a half-billion bucks from taxpayers to build the former Qwest Field. At least MetLife Stadium, where the Seahawks creamed the Broncos, was actually built by the teams that used it. But that’s another era in American sports economics, never to come again.

Okay, I’ll admit, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and, yes, Richard Sherman, seem like great guys as well as great players. Pete Carroll may not be such a great guy, but he clearly did a great job. And I did my best to get into the spirit. I skipped the game-day party across town, but I did troop down to the local in Columbia City. I high-fived and fisted-pumped and loved my neighbors, even if I couldn’t match the big guy who was crying with joy. I even prepped for the occasion decades ago, though I didn’t know it at the time, when I got a couple concussions playing backyard football and was just proud that I didn’t drop the ball.

And there’s the rub, or the rub-out — the reason I hadn’t managed to sit through a whole football game in 20 years: It’s a brutal blood sport, and to pretend otherwise is like pretending they’re shooting blanks in Syria and Afghanistan. Even in this relatively clean game you had to wince again and again and wonder, will this young battering ram be a brain-battered basket case in 20 years, if rage or epilepsy or ALS doesn’t kill him first? Football players play a strange dual role in the socioeconomic dance: They’re pampered 1-percenters and sacrificial victims. And we love the game for its mayhem — OK, you do, or they do, ’cause I don’t anymore. The biggest, bone-crunchiest collisions get the biggest cheers. This has got to be desensitizing, an inoculation in violence.

Yeah, yeah, heard it all before, you say — isn’t it still wonderful that we can come together as a “community” like this, share the pride, bask in the world’s envy? But do you really think the world will respect a city of rabid sports fans more than it does the city of Nirvana and Macklemore, Amazon and (more or less) Microsoft and Boeing, orcas and salmon and Cascade volcanoes? All we seem to have gotten is a bunch of snooty Californians and Easterners huffing about how now Seattle may finally shed its (nonexistent) inferiority complex and San Francisco envy.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 5:26 a.m. Inappropriate

Seriously? Give the stink-eye to a Seahawks NFL championship parade, but get all warm and fuzzy about WTO or WWW riots?

Cameron

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 6:59 a.m. Inappropriate

All good points. And please see my comment to Knute Berger's observations about the victory celebration,which I copy below:

The one thing that marred the celebration was the inclusion of alcohol in the festivities. Alcohol is a huge problem for personal health and public safety. We didn't need to see a public acceptance of it as part of the victory celebration. We didn't see smoking in this years celebration. Maybe in the near future we won't see drinking either.

I am not a hard core sports fan, but I loved playing the big three as a kid, for fun, in vacant lots and in gym class. I love the consummate athleticism, intelligence, and quirkiness of the Seahawks. As far as the Superbowl went, as the second half progressed, and the Broncos where undeniably humiliated, I began to feel a profound sense of ill at ease, moving toward anxiety. Looking at those players faces, showing such despair, I just wanted the game to be over. It would be nice if eventually we could learn to celebrate victories over real problems that face us, disease, hunger, and ignorance instead of victories that involve destroying our fellow men.

Silenus

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 7:57 a.m. Inappropriate

The take home is in the next-to-last paragraph, and the smart money says it ain't gonna happen. The entire article could have been devoted to that concept, but maybe we have to wait 5 years (regardless if the Seahawks repeat, "three-peat", or show some other sign of being a modern-day NFL "dynasty").

Earlier you mention "orcas and salmon." Compared to musicians and business, we have not been doing a good job with either. In fact, besides a bit of back-slapping over the Elwha dam removal, you don't find much press on recovering the alleged "iconic" species of the area. Even the hoopla about saving Puget Sound of a few years ago has died away as the third iteration of the bureaucratic structure (the "Puget Sound Partnership") has hit its stride as its numerous meetings have become part of the background noise.

This might be a "special" place, but the people have nothing to do with the specialness.

oldgaloot

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 8:01 a.m. Inappropriate

I forgot to add that the sub-headline:

But, really, a mass turnout over a 4-day-old sports event represents a loss of meaningful community.

is not really correct. It is not evidence of a meaningful community. And aside from some noise about inequality, which is being talked about in many communities, there are not really any signs of it.

oldgaloot

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 8:59 a.m. Inappropriate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkTb9GP9lVI

Appropriate viewing for Mr. Scigliano. :-)

I mean, of course you have a point, but this is the definition of trolling. There's scant relation between the important issues you raise and the object of comparison you use. And yes, we need to pay more attention to many, many more issues. So, make the case, but do so independently.

Timothy

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 10:47 a.m. Inappropriate

I agree with much of what you so ably say in your piece. I can't explain why people react the way they do when these teams win it all. I was in Seattle when the SuperSponics won and the city just went nuts. I wasn't a big fan but there was no escaping the excitement, which seemed to have a life all of its own. The victory then and last Sunday seemed to pull some kind of trigger in the regional psyche. In the grind of our daily travails, it's a two-steps-forward, one-step-back battle to survive. People yearn for the big break. They play the Lottery praying to win the big one that will put them on Easy Street. Once in a blue moon, it happens. I think the Hawks' win on Sunday, and the subsequent craziness that brought out all those people on Wednesday was that kind of moment. I'm not a big football fan, but I have to say I was caught up in that game. It was a pretty sweet win!

—Ed Stover

edstover

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 11:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Once again Crosscut's own politically correct eeyore drops a turd in the punchbowl. Got to get rid of these frivolous celebrations, then close the zoo and while you're at it, arrest those damn bright-lighted bicyclists trying to stay alive on the at night And this passes for news, give me a break.

MAW

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 11:38 a.m. Inappropriate

Really Eric?

Sorry but this is just elitism. Take your principled stand on bloodsport. Be anti-corporate. Wish the masses were more politically involved. But your negativity is simply sour grapes.

The Seahawks won a world championship and energized this city like nobody else, not WTO, not Macklemore and Nirvana, not Kshama Sawant. The Super Bowl was accessible to everybody, not just union members, not just the mopey PC crowd and "right-thinking people everywhere."

It's been a pretty exciting year, and I'm not really a football fan. Try to find a way to get over yourself and join in the fun.

KgSmyth

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 12:20 p.m. Inappropriate

Nice to see a different take. I am amazed at how much depth of meaning some people are willing to attach to passive activities such as watching a sport. Reading some of the posts on KOMO, Seattle Times... "This is a high point of my life"..."I cried tears of joy when we won.." Sports is fun and all that, but the profundity some people feel just seems overdone. Its sad that some would consider watching other people work and accomplish something to be a high point of THEIR life.

Sports is entertainment. Would we shut Seattle down to have a huge parade if a Seattle-born actor wins an Oscar? Or a Seattle music group wins a Grammy?

ALP

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 2:38 p.m. Inappropriate

Someone born/educated here could develop cold fusion and only get notice in the business press.

kieth

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 12:27 p.m. Inappropriate

I'll bet this is the first time that Nazis, Viet Nam, WTO, Cambodia, labor unions, and the Seahawks have been used together in a Crosscut article. If there was a point to be made it got lost in Eric's hatred of 700,000 Washingtonians that decided to celebrate something that wasn't political. That had to hurt. I just hope Eric remembered to wipe the spittle off his monitor screen. One never knows what lurks on monitor screens and how they'll mix with bodily fluids.

Djinn

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 8:20 p.m. Inappropriate

Eric has forgotten what fun actually is, and how valuable, and healthy, a commodity fun is.

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 1:14 p.m. Inappropriate

I agree with most of the comments here, especially those of ALP. We're conditioned in schools to place higher value on athletics than on academics, at least in my schools. There were assemblies for the various teams, but none for academic accomplishments come high school. The attention was lavished on the athletes. This has continued as I've aged, and the explosion of media outlets has widened this gap. With the 1979 Sonics, one was lucky if they even had a black and white TV and could receive a handful of stations! Anyway, I credit the media - and the public's vulnerability to being manipulated by it - for stoking what ensued: my office went ga-ga over this championship, and even non-fans (those who had never watched a football game or followed a team) adorned their offices with Seahawks logos and such, corporate Facebook pictures were taken and posted, Friday "blue and green" days proliferated, and a mass viewing party for the parade(!) was held at my workplace. I've never seen anything like that, or anything like the throngs of people whose lives were made whole by the championship and a parade that was born out of a "passive activity" as ALP puts it. They can now carry on!

As for another reason for the change, I've found that people (in general, in my experiences) have drifted away from connecting to the events of the day, perhaps due to the polarization of our politics, and have become increasingly disinterested in knowing what's going on in the news and particularly are afraid of debating them (not folks who post here and elsewhere). Instead, they don't even want to know the news and believe whatever public officials tell them, figuring if they bury their heads in the sand that bad things won't happen and that nobody has an ulterior motive. In sports, there isn't much of this, just as in a sci-fi movie, it's somewhat of an escape from reality, which is what appeals to great numbers of people. I applaud Mr. Scigliano for sticking his neck out - way out - in challenging the bandwagon theme.

bricsa

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 8:38 p.m. Inappropriate

Most of us did have color TV in 1979. And most of us Seattle folks who have been around for all these decades went to watch the Sonics parade thru downtown too.

What fun that was! Long term memories of purely fun times. Wow.

And critics just wanna tear that kind of stuff down. Well boo too you Mr. Scrooge.

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 6:40 p.m. Inappropriate

A World Class City, A World Class City. Thank God almighty, we're now a World Class City. Even though the NFL won't let any other countries compete for the title of "WORLD CHAMPIONS!" But now we're finally a World Class City, just like all those other World Class Cities who have won an NFL Championship: London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, Paris, Stockholm, Paris and Toronto. Wait, the Toronto Argonauts won the Grey Cup in 2004 and 2012. Never mind.

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 8:02 p.m. Inappropriate

Very funny and true. Best article of the year Eric. I read it thanks to Knute, who referenced it on a FB post (I'd been struggling with KB's kool aide football/Paul Allen delusions and digressions).

I may start reading Crosscut again. But, can't ride without my lights.

pls

Posted Fri, Feb 7, 8:15 p.m. Inappropriate

Every party needs a pooper, that's why we invited you,
party pooper!

pppphhhhhhhhhttttttttttttttt to the Grinch of Seattle, Eric Scigliano.

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 8:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Jeez. Whose pool did YOU pee in to get assigned the obligatory "con" piece in this feeble attempt to create a culture war?

If you actually believe all this tripe, well you're a moron. Take you and the rest of your anti-family neo-urbanist knuckledragging friends and move to San Francisco.

Most blame goes to Crosscut for even bothering to go here.

ddmiller

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 9:33 a.m. Inappropriate

My god, what an elitist article. As a leftist, WTO-protest participant, and lifelong Niners fan (Hey, congrats Hawks! You were the best team this year!) I would think that a little more time spent in reflection as to why sports are more popular than protests in 2014 might be more useful than this whine-fest. Plus, the author is wrong. Using his (absurd, writer-device) definition of general strikes, San Francisco had (a real) one in the '30s and again in 2010 when the Giants won the World Series for the first time in SF

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 11:22 a.m. Inappropriate

The Fun Police are at it again.

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 11:29 a.m. Inappropriate

Curious.

If you believe in human rights, civil rights, environmental protection, or avoiding war, you may walk, march or protest regardless of what City you live in.

Fan loyalty is peculiarly a matter of location. Thousands of people would have turned out in San Francisco, Boston, or Denver, had any of those teams won the "Superbowl." It is doubtful if most of the hundreds of thousands of people who turned out in Seattle would have been a 12th Man supporter had they grown up or lived instead in San Francisco, Boston, or Denver.

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 7:57 p.m. Inappropriate

It's Riefenstahl, oh lofty superior one.

dwilson

Posted Thu, Feb 13, 8:24 a.m. Inappropriate

If you want a REAL dose of modern-day Riefenstahl, watch the crowd in Seattle when the Sounders take the field. The raised, crossing arms and chants could have come straight out of "Triumph of the Will." Germany IS a hotbed for soccer, isn't it? Hmmm...

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 10:36 a.m. Inappropriate

Eric, I loved the back-and-forth between you and Knute. Funny how so many readers don't really understand stories like these. They're not to present "breaking news," not to smother other voices, but to ponder a topic, make sense of it in a freshly written way, present details we might not have considered, and thereby make us think. You guys express views that both of you make clear aren't the only worthy ones to hold. Wish our politicians would do more of that.

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 3:04 p.m. Inappropriate

We really do understand, the trouble is you don't understand.

Djinn

Posted Tue, Feb 11, 8:48 a.m. Inappropriate

Yes, please don't blame the reader. If the reader does not understand your story, it is because you are not a good writer. Journalism 101.

dwilson

Posted Thu, Feb 13, 8:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Interesting. I've never considered the WTO riots to be any kind of "highwater" mark for Seattle. Guess I need to spend more time aimlessly throwing garbage cans through windows, setting bonfires on sidewalks and confronting police trying to get me to stop. Or just start hating sports.

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