A friend asked me why I hate the Seahawks (yes, we’re back on the subject of ‘hate’–don’t worry, though, we won’t stay there forever), and I tried, clumsily, to explain that hating a sports team isn’t the same as hating, say, Hitler. Hating the New York Yankees is a time-honored tradition in America, or, to take an example from my youth, hating the Boston Celtics when they were winning the championship ninety-seven straight years or whatever it was. I hated the Celtics myself, but I also hated the Los Angeles Lakers, so when they played each other in the championship (which happened, if my memory serves, one hundred and sixty straight times), I had no one to root for but the referees. “Yeah!” I cheered. “That was ABSOLUTELY a foul! Kick both teams out!”
When I was a small child, freshly-minted as a football fan, I glommed onto the Oakland Raiders as my team. They’d just beat the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl (no one hates the Vikings. In order to work up a good hate, at least at the pro level, the object of your hate must be successful, and the Vikings never were), they wore the coolest colors, they had a bad-boy reputation, a left-handed quarterback, they had crazy athletes who knocked over goalposts and wore Mohawks. What wasn’t to like, for an eight-year-old boy?
So, back then when pro football players smoked in the locker room and didn’t bother replacing teeth when they lost them, the Seahawks were a relatively new team, and they were in the AFC West with the Raiders, and my grandparents had four season tickets to Seattle games. They’d take me up there once a year to watch my team play their team at the Kingdome, and those trips are cherished, wonderful memories. We’d drive up in the VW Rabbit, or take the train, and grandma had scrambled-egg sandwiches wrapped up in napkins to snack on, and they’d buy me a program so that I could ogle the pictures of the Raiderettes (“Tammi’s interests include rescuing animals and world peace”) and look at the stats.
I always wore my gear. Raiders jersey (first #12, for Ken Stabler, and then later I got Howie Long’s, and Marcus Allen’s), Raiders hat, Raiders socks. I had Raiders pencils and Raiders stationery at school. I actually owned a pair of Raiders boxer shorts.
So I was a magnet for the Seahawks fans up there. Most were normal human beings, but there was a very vocal, mean minority that would shout obscenities at me. If the Raiders scored, I’d jump up and scream–and get pelted with peanuts and curses. Once someone poured beer on my head. A guy in the restroom threatened me with death once.
Typical sports stuff, but it makes an impression. I had a team to love–and after a couple of experiences at the Kingdome, I now had a team to hate. The Hawks were fine people, I’m sure, and if I met them on the street I’d like them. But when you’re an embryonic sports fan, you learn quickly that just liking a team isn’t enough. You also have to DISLIKE the teams that contest yours. I hated every team the Raiders played, but I had a special deposit of hate for the Seahawks (and later the Broncos, Chiefs and Chargers).
That said, it’s not real hate. I mean, come on–you ever watch a Raiders game in Oakland on television? The cameras pan the crowd, go over the Black Hole, and you see all those guys in their Darth Vader masks and spikes and leather, and you remember that a few years ago some San Diego fan got knifed in the Coliseum, and people pissed on him while he was lying on the concrete, bleeding. Oakland fans are LEAGUES worse than Seahawks fans (and I’m not even mentioning Philadelphia fans, but you can all look up THEIR story…)
“Those people are all criminals,” my brother used to say when we were watching the Raiders crowds. And I couldn’t disagree with him. He’s a Vikings fan, and the crowds at the Metrodome, in spite of their horned helmets, all looked polite and pleasant, as though they wanted to beat the Packers badly, but if that didn’t work out at least they had hot dish to come home to later. You get the sense that when the Raiders lost, their fans swarmed out into the streets to beat up nuns and play impromptu field hockey using poodles as pucks.
Professional sports inspire loyalty, but not as much as college sports do. I had a friend who attended Oregon State, and he once told me, in what seemed like all seriousness, that if any of his children decided to attend the University of Oregon he would disown them and kick them out of the house. That’s probably hyperbole, but…he meant it. At the time, he completely meant it. And this is OREGON. I’ve heard stories about alumni from the University of Alabama, or Texas Tech, that will curl your hair. Sportscasters call the game between BYU and Utah ‘The Holy War’ (for obvious reasons), but for a lot of sports fans college rivalries ARE about as close as it gets to religion. I would wear a Seahawks jersey for a variety of reasons. To please a girlfriend, or if a family member gave one to me, or because I was going to a particular type of party, or if I had nothing else clean in the closet. The friend I mentioned earlier, the Beaver? He had nothing green in his house. Nothing. It was all orange and black and bucktoothed..
I was never that invested in sports teams. I love the Trailblazers, of course, but I can hang out with Lakers fans. I hang out with conservatives, Jews, Wiccans, whatever–I have friends who think the moon landings were faked, I have friends who, in all seriousness, think Sarah Palin would be a good President.
Hate–REAL hate–should be reserved for those that deserve it. In my world, that means bullies, people who use their strength not as it should be used (to protect the strengthless), but to impose their wills on those weaker. That means people who murder their children because they believe God wants them to withhold medical care from them. That means political systems and religions and corporations that exploit the powerless to increase their own power. It means not mentioning your syphilis to the gal you met at the bar, because you want to get laid. It means using your intellect and personal magnetism to sway those who don’t have defenses against that kind of stuff. It means the kind of stuff Rush Limbaugh does, or Michael Moore does, or Pat Robertson does, the stuff that Popes have done, and imams, and union leaders, priests and politicians and pundits.
Romans 15:1; “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
I said, last post, that I hated FORREST GUMP. I really don’t. It was a lighthearted post, and I was exaggerating for effect. Movies, for the most part, aren’t worthy of real hatred (barring stuff like Leni Riefenstahl or snuff videos), same with books (barring stuff like THE TURNER DIARIES or THE PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION), same with popular songs and popular paintings or whatever. Stick a crucifix in a vial of urine or tear up a picture of the Pontiff on national television, you’re gonna get your fifteen minutes of fame, but you’re too petty to hate. You’re a child screaming for attention. There are real things to hate in this world, and I’ve named my personal bête noire. I could continue, and probably will someday, with injustice, with repression, with cowardice and treason, with harmful lies and terrifying lies, and I’ll get to religion one of these months (simultaneously humanity’s greatest creation, and its most harmful), but for now I hope I’ve answered my friend’s question about hating the Seahawks.
I don’t. Still gonna root against them every time (unless they’re playing a team I hate equally, like the Broncos), but I’d happily have a beer with Marshawn Lynch or Pete Carroll and talk about stuff.