What is wrong with this picture?
I've been thinking a lot lately. Then again, humans think within every second of their lives, so that sentence's pretty much redundant. I guess a more appropriate word would be reflection. I've been reflecting a lot lately, probably because big things are coming in my life. In 5 weeks I graduate from high school, and in another month I start my first paid job. By August I turn legal, and after that I'm headed to Boston to start college. Like I said, big things coming my way.
So I find it apt that when I finally slow down my day for once and reflect, the first thing that came to me was my fanhood, my 12th man mantra. If you've read this piece, then you know how I became a Seahawks fan way back in 2005 and how big of an impact it had on my life. Now, seven years later, it's safe to say that I'm still a 12th man that kid jumping up and down in front of the TV one late January evening.
Still, a lot has changed for me within those seven years, and as I got older and older (like the Seahawks!), my fanhood changed. I got more mature and more realistic. Sunday afternoons soon became more important than homework time, and gradually, I became more emotional: wins and losses would set my mood for the day, maybe even the week until the next game came up. Opposing teams turned into rivals and false annoyance and hatred. When I was old enough to use the internet, my fandom blossomed, and eventually, I found a voice here, on Field Gulls.
The Seahawks consumed more and more of my life, and I loved all of it.
But how much did I sacrifice?
To understand the question above, I have to introduce to you my little cousin. In terms of his Seahawks fandom, there isn't much to say. He's seen barely 10 games in his short life and has no plans to go to one live. He doesn't know about Tarvaris Jackson, let alone Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson. He doesn't watch the NFL Draft, nor does he hate the Rams, 49ers or Cardinals. And he's still the biggest Seahawks fan there is.
I'm proud to say that I taught my little cousin about the Seahawks, but I'm even prouder to say he taught me a lot more about the team too.
Week 10, 2011. The Seahawks, coming off a loss against the Cowboys, are 2-6 and not looking good. Coming into town are the 6-2 Baltimore Ravens, a dominant, confident team. I didn't bother watching the game, instead using the slotted time to complete a horrific essay due at midnight. My little cousin was in the living room watching the game. As it began to start, I could hear his excitement. A squeak would indicate a first down or a defensive stop. An "Aww..." would be uttered when we turned the ball over or give up a big play. "Yes!" and "Woohoo!" followed a touchdown or field goal. And as I typed the essay, the symphony of my little cousin's voice crescendo-ing in my ear, I came to the most important lesson a fellow 12th has taught me.
As fellow FG bloggers, we have a lot of things to pride ourselves in: intelligence, good manners, and a handsome face (well, for some of us at least). We are great in writing analysis, breakdowns, scouting reports and projections of our favorite team, with a little bit of laughter and crying in between. It's something we, as fans, are proud of. It's also, unfortunately, a bit of a curse.
Take for example, the comparison between me and my little cousin. I know that T-Jax is not a good QB, he doesn't; I know that Marshawn Lynch might not repeat a 1,000 yard performance, he thinks he can go for 2000 next year; I don't think Brandon Browner is all that good, he thinks he's the best shutdown corner ever in the league. Did I also mention he expects us to win the Super Bowl this year? His optimism for this team is unsurpassed, maybe even to the point of being ridiculous.
But he's also having tons more fun as well.
And that's the magic I sacrificed as I matured: the fun, the optimism. The power to say "ah, we'll win the next one" wholeheartedly after coming to a 9th straight loss. The everlasting, continuing belief that every new season is an every opportunity to win the Super Bowl. The faith that an incompetent, injured quarterback starting for your offense will work out in the end. This magic, this confidence, this is what I missed the most.
In the end, my fellow 12th men, this sport is just a game, an experience meant to be enjoyed. And if one's going to spend a large commitment of their time talking about, well you might as well do it big.
After all, isn't that the only way to cheer and support?