I have never been a fan of any sports team (except for, of course, our very own Portland Pilots teams). To be honest, it would be difficult for me to even name more than five United States professional or college teams from any sport. I don’t follow football, soccer, baseball, hockey, or basketball. When I was in high school, the only team sport I participated in was competitive swimming and, apart from at the Olympics, this sport doesn’t offer much to follow.
I often wonder what causes people to become so attached to certain sports teams. While it’s not uncommon to come across someone who enjoys watching their favorite team win the occasional game, there are also those who take their love even further. What prompts people to dress their pets in their favorite team’s jersey, to keep watching a game even when their team is losing, or to learn their favorite team’s chant by heart? What does a team need to do to earn this kind of respect and dedication from its fans?
In my own family, I am the outlier. Many of my family members love football, in particular. In fact, the first person I think of when I think of a football ‘superfan’ is my aunt. She is a huge Seattle Seahawks fan and sports Seahawks clothing and merchandise year-round. While I can’t offer an answer as to what makes certain teams in spectator sports garner such a dedicated following, I gained some insight into this mystery in my recent interview with her. You can read my interview below:
Why do you like the Seattle Seahawks? What makes them successful or special?
“I love this team because of the energy with which they play. They’re not afraid to try trick plays and ‘go for it’ on the 4th down. The current quarterback is a gifted athlete and it’s exciting to watch him make unbelievable play after play, in only his third year as a professional football player. He’s also a very humble guy. The Seahawks have a great team of talented receivers and running backs, and a strong defensive, making them strong opponents. The “12th Man” crowd has twice produced the loudest sporting event noise in history. A force to be reckoned with!”
When did you become a fan of this team? What was it that attracted you to them?
“I became a fan of this team at the time of their organization in 1979, the year I graduated from high school. I liked them because they were located in the Pacific Northwest and were my ‘homeboys’ as they were in the same state in which I was living at the time. A close friend during my freshman year of college considered the Seattle quarterback a good family friend and we enjoyed watching him succeed. I began following them in earnest.”
In your opinion, what makes a fan of a sports team a ‘superfan’?
“A ‘superfan’ is one who tries never to miss a game, on TV or otherwise, wears team apparel year-round, displays team paraphernalia at home, work, and on vehicles, and loves and believes in them through the good and the bad times. Also, game-day rituals are a must!”
What is the best experience or memory you have related to this team?
“It took 30 years to make it to the Super Bowl, only to lose. It was heartbreaking but, as a true fan, I believed we’d be back and in 2013 we got it done! Super Bowl champions at last! Another loss followed in 2014, but we’ll be back! Go Hawks!”
While I clearly don’t consider myself a big fan of any particular sports team, it’s not hard to see why people fall in love with certain sports and the teams associated with them. The biggest takeaway I got from interviewing my aunt about her love for the Seahawks is that sports teams garner so much dedication and loyalty from their fans for a reason. Teams offer their fans a sense of community, entertainment, suspense, and excitement. Whether it’s seeing their favorite team win a championship or just celebrating their first win in a long line of losses, true fans stick by their team no matter what. With these kinds of payoffs, why wouldn’t they?