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16 Dec

You’re in Seahawks Country.

I am first and foremost, a baseball fan. I’ve spent seven baseball seasons, hopelessly devoted to the Seattle Mariners. I spend six months out of the year checking on baseball blogs, watching games, tracking team standings. But it leaves the other six months of the year lacking. I have been trying to get into football the last couple of years, but it hasn’t happened for me.

This year things have changed. I watched a couple of playoff games last year and saw that the Seattle Seahawks were becoming a viable team. Before this season started, I started dating a dashing young man who knows oodles about sports. We spend our Sundays watching football, him explaining a lot of the little nuances of the game to me. I read articles here and there about the team. And I’m enjoying it so much! The Seahawks are amazing this year. Russel Wilson is incredible. Our defense is unstoppable. Marshawn Lynch seems to fly through the air over the other team’s defensive line. It is the first time in my 27 years that I have had the pleasure of supporting a successful team.

Yesterday, that dashing young man took me to the Seahawks/Giants game at MetLife Stadium. Decked out in our Russel Wilson jerseys, we tailgated in lot J8 under a flag that deemed that area Seahawks country. We were surrounded my hundreds of other fans in Jerseys, hats, scarves, tutus, chanting “Go Hawks!”, taking Seahawks-colored Jello shots.

While waiting in line for the Porta-Potty, the man standing behind me asked if I was from Seattle. I told him I was.

“But you live in New York, and still follow the Seahawks?” he asked.
“I’m more of a Mariner fan, but this season, I’ve gotten more into…”
“Oh, so you’re a bandwagon fan?”
“She’s more of a Seattle fan,” my boyfriend said, defending me.

But I had nothing to say back. I’ve been called a bandwagon fan before, but I have always laughed it off as ridiculous. I’ve been following the Mariners through six painful, losing seasons after all. But this man had a point. I only became a Seahawks fan during their winning season. Was I bandwagon?

I brooded on this. And it comes down to what makes up fan loyalty? The Mariners I fell in love with in 2007 are not the same team they are now. Felix Hernandez is about all that’s left from back then, and it’s only six years ago. It has a lot to do with the city. I dream of Seattle and feel pride of anything good that comes from there. But being a fan is a unique kind of loyalty. For one reason or another, a fan picks a team and sticks with them. They believe in them, follow them. Every fan has a unique story as to why that team is theirs.

I hate when Bandwagon is a term that fans throw around in exasperation. It reminds me of a child on a playground retorting, “Oh yeah, well your stupid!” It’s the easy thing to say. Your a fan of a team that’s better than mine? Well, then you must be bandwagon. To me bandwagon is a fan who lacks that loyalty, who doesn’t dedicate themself to a team, who chooses their team superficially due to popularity or style. I met a Yankee fan at a Seattle Mariner’s game who asked me if Joe DiMaggio was on the team or not. THAT’S bandwagon.

I have dedicated my loyalty to an amazing team, from the greatest city in this country. The fact that they happen to be on their way to a Super Bowl championship, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

Tailgating: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love football

16 Oct


Last Saturday night, I met up with a group of friends at the Washington Husky bar to watch the UW vs. UO football game. Over beers, my friends Patty and Grant started asking me if I wanted to go with them to the New York Giants game the next morning. They had asked me previously, but I absolutely could not afford it. But, it was getting down to crunch time, and no one had bought the tickets, so they offered to give them to me, so that they wouldn’t go to waste. It was too good a deal to turn down. So we drank through the crushing defeat of the Huskies and headed to the UCLA bar to meet up with our other Pac-12 friends and watch UCLA get crushed as well. All in all, we drunkenly stumbled out of the bar at 2AM. As I headed into the subway station, Grant called after me to remind me that we were all meeting at Penn Station at 9:30AM the next morning. Awesome.

I got home around three, and my alarm went off at 8AM. I head to Penn Station so that we can all catch the train to New Jersey together. This is when I learned that both New York football teams play in the same stadium, and that stadium is in New Jersey. Confusing, right? The train is full of Giants fans, so we know we’re headed in the right direction. Patty and I are sipping coffee, trying to numb the hangover, while everyone else on the train is doing jello shots and chugging beer…at 10AM.

Part of the package we had signed up for was a pre-game tailgating extravaganza. I was told there would be unlimited food and alcohol, but I was convinced that there was no way I’d be drinking that day. I definitely needed a burger or two for energy, but I had every intention of passing on the booze. Once we arrived at the stadium, we began the journey through the parking lot of MetLife Stadium toward section L8, where our tailgating party was. It was a world of which I have never seen before. People had campers, barbeques, Giants canopies, DJ booths, portable grills, seats, buffets. What?!?! How have I never partaken in this sort of thing before? People do this every week? Football fans are pretty legit.

We arrive at our section, and it’s incredible. I think I might have muttered the word “magical” a couple of times. There was a full bar, with coolers and coolers of beer, fifths of every alcohol imaginable. And food, oh God, so much food. Cheeseburgers, breakfast sandwiches, Buffalo chicken, pulled pork, meatballs, sauerkraut, hot dogs, perogies, steak sandwiches. The grills were running constantly. And there were waitresses walking around with trays of everything. You didn’t even have to leave your canopy if you didn’t want to.

Needless to say, I ate…and drank. I still can’t believe I was capable of imbibing even more beer, but it was just there, and Grant and Patty don’t let you say no to more drinks. It was cloudy and about 50 degrees and that parking lot. I had worn layers, but not nearly enough and was rather cold. When it started to rain, Patty and I were able to secure two large trash bags. We ripped holes in the top and wore them as make-shift ponchos. I felt a little silly, but oh so much warmer. A couple of people in our tailgating group reassured me that I was football-chic and a garbage bag is a sign of honor. A guy selling Giants hats was walking around, offering 2 for $15. Patty and I each bought a royal blue one to make our football outfits complete.

Giants Chic

We finally headed into the stadium to watch the game. The rain came and went, and Patty was very diligent about scolding me about when to take my bag off and put it on. I know the basics of football, and our seats weren’t too bad. I got really into the game, and lo and behold we won, by a lot. The Giants have a rookie punt returner (look at me with my football knowledge!) named David Wilson. Before this game, the only Giants player I knew of was Eli Manning. I only know who Eli Manning is because his name comes up a lot in the New York Times crossword and the Dunkin Donuts I frequent has a cardboard cutout of him holding a delicious breakfast sandwich. So I enter the stadium, hearing rows of people behind me screaming, “Wilsoooooooon!” a la “Castaway” with Tom Hanks. As I am fond of other Wilsons, he became my guy, and I cheered him on as much as I could.

“So, is it official? Are you a Giants fan now?” Patty asked me.
“Oh, definitely!” I easily responded.
“You know, ” my friend Gian piped in. “The Jets are really the New York underdog.”
I pondered this for a moment. I’ve followed underdogs my whole life. I’ve never experienced a winning rally with a winning team. I love me an underdog, and my long-standing love of the Seattle Mariners is my biggest defense against ever being called a bandwagon fan.
“No, I’ve put my time in. Nothing against the Jets, but I’m a Giants fan.”
“After all,” Patty added pointing to my new Giants hat. “You have made the financial investment.”

So, let’s go Giants…let’s go.