The Localist

12th Men: How the Seahawks teach us about home

Imagine this. It’s the fourth quarter, the clock is running, your home team is down by three, forty seven seconds left. Home team possession. First down, two yards. Second down, one more. The room holds its breath, the pizza is momentarily forgotten, a beer glass is lowered onto the table, a low “c’mooooon” rumbles from the armchair in the corner. The Quarter Back takes the snap, aims to throw, and for a second, hesitates. The opposing defense line is closing in, and he makes a break for it. Ten yards, twenty yards, fifty yards. Everyone is standing now, screaming, clapping, “GO, GO, GO”. TOUCHDOWN the announcer yells, the room collapses in cheers. They’ve done it, we’ve won. The whole city goes into the new week, heads held a little higher.

American Football, like almost nothing else in this country, brings community together. In a world where time is money, and life moves faster than people can keep up with, community and rest often get pushed to the back burner. But once a weekend, during football season, families and friends sit down together for three and a half hours to watch a game, enjoy food, talk about their weeks, relax, and yell themselves hoarse.

The Seahawks joined the NFL as Seattle’s team in 1976 – and are by extension Washington’s number one faction. Since then, the Seahawks have enjoyed some excellent seasons, culminating in the win of the Super Bowl Championship title at the end of the 2013/2014 season.

Seattleites love their Seahawks. And the Seahawks love their Seattleites. So much so, that Seattle fans are fondly known as “the 12th Man”. A football team has eleven players on the field, and the fans make the twelfth – they are as much a part of the team and the culture as the players on the field are. This is a view that the Seahawks themselves have adamantly encouraged. The team retired the number 12 jersey in 1984, devoting that number solely to fans. A “12” flag flies proudly in front of Century Link field, home field of the Seahawks. Appreciation and gratitude flows freely from players. The result? Undying support. And a world record for loudest crowd noise at a sporting event – a 137.5 decibel racket that triggered a magnitude 1 or 2 earthquake.

Being a Seahawks fan teaches us about community – about laying our differences aside to scream our hearts out in support of a community goal. When the Hawks play, our whole city, our state is in – decked in blue, white, and green. Jerseys are on, banners are hung in windows and from cars, buses flash the mascot across their digital displays as they drive through the city – if you are in Hawks colors, you are a friend.

The 12th Man flag was raised on top of the Space Needle this morning – it’s game time. Go Hawks!





Image. Photo by Elain Thompson/Associated Press.

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