By now the Super Bowl is old news, and most of us have moved on to the Olympics. It was great fun for a city that has long been deprived of sports victories, and the media’s attempt to characterize Seattle, to the point of psycho analyzing its entire population, was so amusing. I don’t recall such attempts to gain insight into the collective minds of Baltimore, New York, Green Bay, or other past championship cities. Perhaps the quirkiness of our citizens is just too tempting.
The New York Times¹ coverage of the victory parade as anthropological experiment was particularly insightful. Apparently we are polite but cold, very geeky, and most of the adult population has an intravenous espresso drip implanted into a vein. Seattleites also have a “mile-wide streak of insecurity about (ourselves) and (our) place in the world.”
Sifting through the crowd, the reporter found people who believe this victory will “build our confidence” and help us find our place in the world. Others expressed dismay over the 12th man as un-sportsmen–like. Even more priceless is the hope that it will shine a light on the Seattle Opera, particularly Wagner’s “Ring,” (Seattle’s operatic version of a stadium Dead show). Perhaps Richard Sherman should don a horned Viking helmet over his dreads and join the Ring Chorus. That would spark some interest.
If only I had managed to drag my lazy self and kids downtown to the parade. I would have given the roving reporters exactly what they had come for, waxing philosophically a-la-Noam Chomsky, “Why am I cheering for my team? It’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements — it’s training in irrational jingoism.” ²
I then would have mentioned how much this helped a city suffering from low self-esteem and self-loathing to start the long slow process of loving ourselves again, and how I hope it will bring more visitors to the Gum Wall in Pike Market, and Paul Allen’s true triumph, the Experience Music Project. Not only can you see the world’s largest collection of broken guitar strings, but it also features a piece of lint from Kurt Cobain’s favorite fuzzy sweater.
In all sincerity, I think the psychology behind celebrating a Super Bowl victory is pretty straightforward. Doesn’t every city like to flex their muscles by winning a major sports championship every now and again, regardless of the purported character of a city? Call it human nature. And this particular Super Bowl championship for Seattle was so sublime. The Seahawks captivated this city, even the most ambivalent among us. Our admiration extended way beyond their pure athleticism and win/loss record. It was the myriad of human qualities they unabashedly displayed – humility, bravado, grit, strength, fearlessness, egotism, insecurity, vulnerability.
We all know it’s been a tough row to hoe for Seattleites when it comes to professional sports. Thirty-five years since the Sonics won the NBA championship, and they are now playing somewhere on the Great Plains. The Mariners last playoff run was in 2001, and it has long been rumored that if the Mariners ever made it to the World Series, it’s what Revelations was referring to as the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
- “‘Chill’ Seattle Savors Its Super Bowl Moment in the Sun”, KIRK JOHNSON, FEB. 5, 2014, New York Times
- Excerpts from Manufacturing Consent , Noam Chomsky interview, 1992