Opinion

Sports can connect our community like no other | Editorial

I remember watching football with my grandfather. He would teach me about the game. It brought us together.

But growing up a Seattle sports fan has always come with a bit of a price — eternal disappointment. Steve Largent never played in a Super Bowl, Ken Griffey Jr. never even won an American League Pennant and Gary Payton got his ring — in Miami.

I have friends who have moved away and disassociated themselves from Seattle teams. There are others who have lived here their entire lives, deciding to adopt other teams out of impatience or just frustration. They would make memories with someone else’s team. Sometimes I don’t blame them. But that is not me and it is a not a lot of people around here.

Watching the Seahawks win the Super Bowl last Sunday was truly sweet for those of us who never wavered in our dedication to our local teams. Some of us cried, shouted and thought of those sports fans in our lives who didn’t live to see it. Thirty-five years is a long time to wait.

I remember my grandfather telling me stories of how Broadway in Seattle was packed with people cheering after the Sonics won the NBA title. I always wondered how that felt to have so much pride in my team and region that it drove me into the streets.

While San Francisco 49er fans have great memories of “The Catch” against the Cowboys, and Bronco fans have John Elway flipping into the end zone against the Packers for titles, we had Rick Mirer fumbles and promises that Dan McGwire, of all people, would be the next big thing. I am old enough to remember watching the Hawks lose to the Raiders in the AFC title game and then get angry as Ken Behring tried to move the team to Los Angeles a decade later.

For fans my age, who are diehard Seattle sports addicts, it is a commitment like no other.

So, why was winning the Super Bowl so important to Seattle sports fans? Because for the rest of our lives, when our team wins 116 games and fails to make the World Series, appears in the Super Bowl and gets the shaft by the refs or loses during the NBA finals to the greatest player to lace up a pair of sneakers, we can feel good that there was one season our team came through and gave us joy on par with some of the greatest feelings in anyone’s lifetime.

Why did this win bring in so many who are not sports fans? It is simple, they felt like they were apart of something bigger. Because little old Seattle won the “big one.” It is the first time that Seattle has won on such a large stage. We live in an isolated part of the country and we take pride in our area.

That sense of community is powerful for everyone. We start to feel disconnected from our neighbors and even our family when we have our face glued to our smart phone all day. We don’t talk to our neighbors when there is nothing that connects us. This win connected our region. It was powerful. It is also something that everyone will remember, sports fan or not. Other cities have those memories that bind their community. It binds relationships as well. I sat with my dad, who is not a big sports fan, cheering and screaming for Percy Harvin to keep running. It was an iconic moment for many.

We now have the memory of “The Tip” and the 2014 Lombardi Trophy that brought our larger community together. And no one can move that to Oklahoma City or Los Angeles.

Matt Phelps is the editor of the Kirkland Reporter and Bothell/Kenmore Reporter.

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