The Story of a Fair-Weather Fan


Hi everyone. My name is Zach, and while I have been lounging around FieldGulls for probably a year now, this is my first interaction. The first reason is that if/when the Mebane get-together is finalized, I want to go and at least be able to say I've posted. Secondly, I finally feel I have something to say. Fair-weather fandom is a bit of a hot-button topic, but I think I have something to add.

Let's begin with my story.

I was never really interested in professional sports as a child. My brother was mildly engaged in the Seahawks, but the fact that he left our house when I was about 10 years old removed that influence from my life. I grew up playing sports, but I did not watch them.

When the Seahawks burst onto the Superbowl scene at the end of that wonderful season, my Junior year in High School, I was unaware until a week before kickoff. A few of my friends were going to a Hooter's to watch the game, and I went along. Along with watching the waitress set my friend up in a bib, and the lone Steeler fan in the room talking trash, I found myself entranced by the game of football.

It was like a movie. Good struggled with evil, and as we cheered and involved ourselves with these men in helmets we didn't truly know, while their skirmishes - victory on one play, defeat on the next - became ours. Grown men sacrificed their bodies for a cause. I loved it.

After that I became much more involved in the world of the Seahawks. I wanted to understand the players, the situations, and as I matured and learned about contracts and business I learned about that as well. And if this is all that there was to be said, I could say that fandom has to begin somewhere, and that I have stuck with the team since then. That is not the case.

About two months ago, the worst time of my life ended. There was no decisive turning point, but a vague knowledge that I turned a corner. I have reached a clarity and firmness in my approach in which I finally feel confident; prior to this knowledge was three years of battling bouts of depression, struggling bitterly through my first 2 years of college before eventually going on leave, closing myself to everything around me and spending over 20 hours of every day in my room at my parent's house.

I tried to watch the Seahawks. I read about them, stayed current with trades and draft days and the coaching changes of this previous year. Yet when the time came to sit on the couch and watch the Seahawks, I quickly became restless and bored. I went back to my room to sleep or play a game. We couldn't win a game; we couldn't even be competitive. It simply made me tired.

Was I a fair-weather fan? To some, perhaps I was. I was attracted by winning, and I was disinterested in losing. I had no desire to stick by a team that seemingly had no desire of its own.

And so we enter the Pete Carroll era, the era of enthusiasm, and fittingly I am entering into an era of my own enthusiasm and desire. Perhaps a parallel can even be drawn over the course of all these three years: as the team has struggled and fallen to its lowest point, so have I. Do I know that the Seahawks will succeed this year, or that I myself will find lasting success? Certainly not, but we have both achieved early victories that create a long-craved environment of hope and foundation. When Hasselbeck's face lit up after Carlson made that lovely one-handed grab in Sunday's game, I felt it too.

I was a fair-weather fan. There was a time in my life when I looked to the Seahawks not as a diversion or hobby, but as an affirmation that there were still victories. When they fell through, I left it. I could not bear their hardships as my own, as I did on that Superbowl Sunday, because I could hardly bear the hardships that beset me already. But now that my strength is returning, I hope to stand by the Seahawks as a stalwart supporter.

I know that bandwagoners and the like are a fact of sports, and are often mocked or scorned. When the Lions/Buccaneers/Rams/Browns win the Superbowl in a couple years, some will be saying, "I was with them the whole time, through the thick and thin". I am glad that they were; teams need those people. But when the day comes and the Seahawks are back under those big lights and the guy sitting next to me at the bar is rooting them on, I'm not going to ask him why he's there. We're on the same side, that's all I need to know.

Good luck to the Seahawks, and good luck to the 12th Man. Let's keep the hope alive.

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