To me, being a Seattle sports fan is about years of mediocrity and suckitude, with mere whiffs of greatness, only to have ones soul crushed by defeat (or worse). I remember watching the greatest basketball team I have ever seen lose to the 8th seeded Nuggets with Dikembe Mutombo rolling on the floor in tears. I remember the "Refuse to Lose" Mariners beating the Yankees (the Yankees!) and go up 2-1 on the Indians, only to get swept the rest of the way. I remember a different set of Mariners having the greatest regular season in Major League History, only to watch 19 assholes change the world forever. The Mariners were .500 the rest of the season and would lose to a Yankees team that was playing for every citizen of a city devastated by unimaginable loss. I remember watching the Seahawks (the Seahawks!) have the best record in the conference, only to lose to a Steelers team that was apparently playing a home game with WWF refs and had given the Seahawks O-line "advice" on the best strip clubs in Windsor the night before the big game (that last bit is probably not true, but it could be). And I watched my beloved SuperSonics, the only Seattle team to ever win a championship (sorry Storm, you do not count) get moved to Oklahoma City.
Being an Oklahoma sports fan is easy. It’s about lots of luck and entitlement and expectations. Oklahomans assume every year the Sooners will win the National Championship and the Thunder will be NBA champs. It’s not a hope or a prediction or a possibility. It’s an expectation. Imagine Yankee fans, add in the obsession with football of any Texas high school, subtract any humility that’s left over and you approach the place where an Oklahoma sports fan lives. They’ve experienced exactly ½ season of an NBA team sucking before it was good. The Sooners have had 11 losing seasons since 1900 and have won 7 National Titles.
Yeah, living in Oklahoma and loving Seattle sports is hard. There’s little to no national reporting, except for the NBA, which just rubs salt in the wound. Whenever someone brings up the Thunder, I mostly bite my tongue and walk away. When people find out that I’m a Seattle fan, sometimes they say, "Oh" and leave it at that. Those are the good times. Other times they say, "Well, you should be happy because the Sonics moved here." Those are the times I want to commit felonies.
So today, I was walking through the Commissary and happened to see a young woman, quite pregnant, obviously picking up groceries for her family, and noticed she was wearing a faded, navy-blue, Seahawks hooded sweatshirt. At first I thought I’d leave her be, but in my general, end-of-the-week, Friday-afternoon euphoria, I couldn’t resist and said, "I like your shirt." After this clever opening line we chatted for a few minutes about where we were from and where our families still lived, never asking why two Washingtonians were living 2000 miles away from home. After our two-minute conversation was over, my thoughts drifted to where the buttermilk was and where I might find the self-rising flour, never to think of the young woman again. Or so I thought.
As I walked back to my truck after parking the shopping cart, I noticed two cars down from mine, a minivan with a Seahawks flag flying from the window of the back seat. Curiosity overcoming me, I peered into the windows as I walked by to the see the same young woman I had conversed with earlier. Seeing her drivers window opened, I hollered to her a she was pulling a way, "Have a great weekend!" She replied, "you too!" And then the highlight of my week occurred. In a land full of Oklahoman entitlement, two embittered Seattle fans, strangers merely minutes earlier, simultaneously cried, "GO HAWKS!"
It was the sweetest sound I’ve heard in the many years I have lived in the dusty prairies of Oklahoma.