Cheering for Losers

I've had the requisite 24 hours to sit and stew after watching Pro-Bowl Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck get carried off the field in what quickly went from a 10-10 game to a Minnesota blowout, and all I could think about is my friends back east who have remained faithful J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! fans since our childhood days. How do they do it? To say the Jets have been an underperforming franchise over the past 10-20 years is an understatement. Yet, still my friends spend their hard-earned money going to the games week in and week out, cheering for a team that in all likelihood will once again fall well short of the Wildcard. Just like they always do.

Yesterday was the first time the Seahawks lost at home during the regular season since December of 2004. The last time we witnessed a defeat was the agonizing playoff loss to the Rams (who beat the Seahawks 3 times that season) in January of 2005. Including theplayoffs, the Seahawks have won the past 12 games at home. Quite simply, I forgot it was possible for them to lose at home. Or ever, to be perfectly honest.

Watching Hasselbeck go down and Seneca Wallace (who I find very entertaining to watch... during the pre-season) turn the ball over and the defense give up big play after big play was agonizing. We were dumbstruck. We have a good time on gameday win or lose, but this was a shock to the system. It hurt. We stayed to the final whistle -- the only ones left in our section were a few other diehard fans and a smattering of purple-cloaked Vikings fans who moved down from the nosebleed section. And when we left, we had to endure the serenading of the Viking fight-song by a few Minnesotans who relocated.

But the Seahawks will live to fight another day and in all likelihood will still win the NFC West and make a playoff run once Alexander and Hasselbeck (not to mention Bobby Engram and Floyd Womack) return to the field. But for those people who go to watch the Texans, Cardinals, 49ers, Jets, Lions, Packers, Dolphins, Raiders, and Browns... How do you do it? How do you go to the stadium week in and week out knowing full well that the odds of your team winning are slim. Is the occasional surprise victory worth the weeks of punishment? Do you even watch the games, or just go for the excitement and social aspects? How drunk do you get, exactly? I understand the concept of team loyalty, but you can be loyal at home in your living room and be a few thousand dollars richer by year's end. Why go to the stadium? And, by the way, how does one become loyal to a team that hasn't experienced success in your lifetime? Cardinals fans, I'm looking at you.

But I guess that's it right there. Other than the Texans and Cardinals, every team in the NFL has given their fans something to chear about in the last 25 years. The guys who have the seats next to us at Qwest Field have been Seahawks season ticket holders for over 20 years. That's a lot of losing seaons there, folks. But you know what? They were there for the days when the Seahawks were consistently competing for the AFC Championship in the early 80's and that experience gave them hope that the team could do it again. Last season's run to the Super Bowl was thrilling enough to at least buy another 10-15 years of loyalty from me. And each team has had a season like that -- or, in the Lions case, a player named Barry who was so electric he made up for the team's shortcomings.

So I guess I do understand why fans continue to go, no matter how bad the team is. Well, except for Texans and Cardinals fans are concerned. Their moment has yet to come. But maybe next year will be the year...

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