In the spirit of gathering new experiences on my travels I attended my first ever live football game while I was in Seattle. I’ve never been sports-y and managed to miss all my high school and college events but couldn’t turn down free (unwanted by their intended fan recipient) tickets to see a game with Roshni and her boyfriend when I arrived in Seattle to take refuge from my uncertainty about the future. Off we went to the Seahawks’ Stadium, one rainy Sunday afternoon, to see what this NFL thing is all about. Roshni was able to draw on her high school marching band experience to explain the outline of the game to me and we turned to Dylan for more expert commentary on the plays but I was as interested in the views of the rainwashed city from my unusual vantage and in crowd dynamics as I was by the action on the field. Simply being in that space – with more people than lived in the city of La Crosse – all focusing on the same patch of green space and howling in unison every time the opposing team made a play was quite overwhelming.
Fans there take their responsibility as “twelfth man” on the field very seriously and one group of enthusiasts a few rows ahead of us (shown in the third photo) spent as much time facing back into the stadium and exhorting the crowd to yell as they did watching the field. After the game (which “we” narrowly won in the last two minutes) they stood in the aisle and greeted everyone in blue with a high five and a bellowed “SeeeeaaaHAWKS!” and anyone in Patriots colors with two jabbing index fingers and a mighty “F–K YOU!” I was grateful in the extreme that my travel pullover happened to be a Seahawks adjacent color. I’d be very curious to know what acoustical engineering went into the stadium design (which is known to be one of the loudest in the league). In fact, when it was first built the NFL accused the team of piping in extra crowd noise to confuse opposing players and make for its record number of false starts by opposing teams (121 since 2005 which is 6 more than the Vikings’ who play under a dome) but its simply a combination of angled stands and very loud fans.
As I started to get into the spirit of the crowd noise, I imagined that the sensation must be related to watching the Gladiatorial games at ancient Colossea. I’m sure I’ll visit several such venues on my travelling but its doubtful they will be as packed with bellowing hoards.
Two more unlikely football fans have probably never been seen.