I have to come clean. I’m not a football fan. Okay, now the truth is out and I feel much better!
But I do have to admit that I have enjoyed our recent Seahawks fever. It’s been wonderful to see so many Washingtonians filled with enthusiasm, excitement, and sheer joy during our gray winter months. But like the other three non-football fans in our fair state, I do wonder-- why is there so much football fever? Why is the average Joe and Jane filled with so much energy over, well…just a game?
If you are a big fan with a closet full of Seahawks jerseys, sweatshirts, scarfs, and hats you probably don’t ponder this question much. It’s just a pleasure to watch our team go on to the Super Bowl—even with a loss.
But as a psychologist, I do wonder about this fervor that has swept across the Puget Sound like a giant tsunami. Here’s what I think:
It’s meaningful to be part of something larger than yourself. Fans feel a connection to our larger community. It combines civic pride with a collective aspiration to be part of something larger than ourselves and our everyday lives.
We have a deep desire to be part of a “pack” that is bigger than our families and relatives. We want to feel the sense of belonging that comes with an affinity group—like a church, a company, or a team.
It’s team sports that appeal to our collective minds. We all feel like we are the 12th member of the Seahawks team, even if we are watching the game from the comfort of our living room.
Hawk fever enables us to connect with each other. This is the part I love. Total strangers fist bumping, talking with each other in gym locker rooms, on buses, at restaurants and supermarkets—exclaiming “Go Hawks”. On Fridays before big games, the streets are filled with men, women, and children wearing Seahawks jerseys. We feel that we are part of one team—which is a wonderful feeling. It expresses our communal need to feel connected to each other.
Athletic achievement reminds us of what we are all capable of. I know that I am not able to run a football down a 100-yard field with eleven 250lb giants trying to knock me down! But the fact that someone can charge towards a goal, with amazing speed, agility, and grace reminds me that I am capable of more than I think.
Few of us have the athletic talent of a Marshawn Lynch or a Russell Wilson. But we can muster dedication, relentless practice, and single mindedness to our endeavors, whatever they may be. While I will never be a great athlete, I can be a champion dad, husband, son, or brother. I can be a Super Bowl contender in the company where I work or in the community where I live.
We love it when the underdog comes from behind to win. Come on, don’t you love it when our team comes from behind and wins the game with an amazing throw, catch, or run? These moments are far more inspiring than when the Seahawks obliterate an opponent 48 to 3.
It reminds us---don’t give up. It’s not over until the final whistle. It’s possible to achieve your goal, even when it seems impossible. Put in the extra effort, depend on others, and make the impossible, possible.
It gives us a reason to celebrate. So who needs an excuse for a party? But during the rush to the Super Bowl end zone, we enjoyed the company of friends and family. It was a love fest.
What was Seahawk fever for you?