I often get asked how or why I got Ty involved with junior hockey when I have no previous experience myself. The reason I usually give is that when the twins were toddlers, I met a Dad at a networking event who had sons now in college. We were talking about all of the organized sports options for kids and he emphatically told me, “get your kids into hockey. It never rains inside the rink and you’ll never have to stand in a muddy field.” That did make sense to me.
But in truth, I had long thought that if I ever had children, hockey would be a great sport for them to learn when they were young. The combination of eye-hand coordination, balance, skill and yes, toughness were all skills I feel will be helpful in any sport that may follow (even if they decided not to play hockey long).
The other primary reason I wanted Ty to play hockey (which I had not shared with many) was that I have long wanted to play it myself. I was able to go to a few California Golden Seals NHL games as a child and the sport fascinated me. I loved the speed and physicality of it – it reminded me a bit of football, but on ice skates. There was one other classmate I knew who played but the nearest rink was 15 miles away and his practices were at 6 am during the week. I knew there was no way I’d be able to talk my mom into that kind of schedule for me (particularly when she had to juggle schools and schedules for 2 other brothers and a sister). But I remained fascinated with the sport.
After I moved to Seattle (the first time) in 1990, I saw yard signs around the area encouraging adults to sign up for a beginner hockey league in the area (“No experience necessary”). I was intrigued and seriously thought about it – but never took the step to learn more about it or actually sign up.
As Ty’s season wound down, we received an announcement for the season-end party and celebration. It would feature a parents vs. kids hockey game at Kingsgate Arena in Kirkland. Other dads (who grew up playing hockey) immediately started talking about how fun the game will be – and asked if I had any experience. I confessed I didn’t, but they encouraged me to come on out to play anyway. I thought about and realized, this is finally my chance to actually play hockey myself! Fortunately, I know a Dad from one of the other Mite teams (his son played on Ty’s Little League baseball team last year) who started playing beginner hockey 2 years ago (he’s been trying to get me to sign up for the league as well). He graciously loaned me his hockey gear so I could play.
Ty was very excited that I was going to play in the parents vs. kids game and I thought about how it would be a very cool and memorable experience for us to be able to take the ice together and play. There really are very few sports (especially team sports) where one would have this kind of opportunity. As the date for the party approached, I found myself both excited and nervous – it brought back memories of my first tackle football game more than 30 years ago. I couldn’t wait for the experience but I was also terrified I might make a complete fool out of myself once I got on the ice.
It was a surreal experience putting on all of the hockey gear – on myself (instead of Ty). We had arrived a few minutes late so I was the last Dad to come out to the bench. The others greeted me warmly and enthusiastically. We had 11 Dads so we basically divided into two separate shifts (or lines). After getting help from one of the other Dads to lace up and tighten my skates – I was ready to play. It was time for the shift change and I bolted onto the ice with only a general idea where I was supposed to go (or what to do). It wasn’t long before the puck caromed my direction and I quickly realized just how tricky it is to coordinate feet, ice skates and a big hockey stick – as I reached for the puck my skates slid out from under me and I landed on my side. I had my first official fall not even :30 into my hockey career. Fortunately, it turned out to be my only fall as I skated steadier the rest of the game.
After I regained my footing I found myself chasing the puck (and players) around the ice. As one of the kids tried to skate past me with the puck I successfully knocked it away and even managed to turn it into a weak pass to a teammate. I felt empowered. About :20 seconds later one of the better skaters on Ty’s team secured the puck and started to rush towards me with it. He made a move to go around me and I instinctively reached out with my stick to try to again jab away the puck – but this time I got his skates with it. The whistle blew (two kids volunteered to referee) and I was called for the first penalty of the game. There are many (including my Mom) who consider this to be very fitting for me to be sent to the penalty box not even 2 minutes into the game. But alas, I did the crime so I had to do the time.
The kids won the game (of course) but the overall experience was truly exhilarating for me. I was able to skate on probably 4-5 different shifts and was amazed at how much sweat I produced during that time. Granted, I’m not in the best shape of my life but every other dad (and most other kids) were equally drenched as well. Even in a low-key game like that, skating in a full-ice game takes an amazing amount of energy and work!
The experience was a resounding success. Ty was thrilled with my participation although when I asked him later how he thought I did out there he said, “you weren’t very good, but that’s OK!” I’m glad to see all of my coaching with him has already made it full circle.
Later I was reflecting back on my first exposure to playing hockey and wondered if it would be similar to Moonlight Graham in the movie, Field of Dreams. In the movie, Graham was provided the opportunity to finally hit in a major league game, thanks to the magical field and Ray Kinsella. But he wasn’t able to continue playing because he stepped off the field to help Ray’s daughter, who had been choking on a hot dog. Ray apologized profusely but Moonlight wouldn’t hear of it. He was happy he finally got the experience and explained, “If I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes… now that would have been a tragedy.”
There is a part of me that would have been equally OK if that Sunday in Kirkland turned out to be my one and only hockey action. I have a very full life and plenty of challenges from a time (and financial) standpoint that its easy to rationalize not playing again. But I have to say there is something about that experience that has stuck with me. It’s not dissimilar from my first trip overseas when I had the opportunity to visit London, Berlin and Copenhagen for the first time. In that case I caught the travel bug, now I have the hockey bug.
One of the dads from Ty’s team emailed the others and commented how much fun it was for us to all skate together and he shared that the rink has open ice times for beginner adults every Saturday night. It sounds like a group of guys will be going on a regular basis and I plan to join as well (as soon as I have a free Saturday night). But in the meantime I’ve bought my hockey equipment so I’m ready to go. Whether its now joining Ty on the ice for Stick and Puck or joining a new beginner adult hockey league in the Fall, I’m excited about this new athletic chapter in my life. How many sports can you say that about at my age?
And I also have a new level of appreciation for just how difficult a sport hockey is – this helps put things into perspective as I watch and support Ty continue to grow and improve in his young hockey career.
U.S. Congressman Compares Corruption in CDC’s Vaccine Safety Studies to SEC’s Handling of Bernie Madoff Scandal
Congressman Bill Posey Has Strong Words for Government Agency. Concludes: “I think the CDC Should Be Investigated.” Congressman Bill Posey. (PRNewsFoto/AutismOne) WATCHUNG, N.J., April 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — In an April 8 interview on AutismOne…
Not only is Orlando about as far away geographically as you can get from Seattle in the continental US, its also very different culturally. I say this having spent a considerable amount of time in Mickey’s backyard visiting Renee’s parents on many trips over the past 16 years.
“Artsy” is not a word I would typically use to describe Orlando – but today when I was out for a run along the Seminole County Trail, I was pleasantly surprised when I observed a number of paintings and murals that ran the length of a privacy fence that lined the trail. It was so off-beat and cool I had to do a double-take. Was I really seeing this in Longwood? The paintings ranged from Betty Boop to Wonder Woman and Ghostbusters to Prefontaine. I didn’t count but there are easily more than 50 paintings you can observe on both sides of the trail. There is even a chalkboard in the middle with a sign encouraging others to write a message or leave their own art – with a bucket full of chalk and wet rags provided. I noticed a sign on the end, it said “Like Paint the Trail on Facebook.” I made note to do just that as I snapped a few photos of some of my favorites to share with others. I just absolutely loved what appeared to me to be a spontaneous work of art that obviously grew beyond original expectations.
“I put a couple of paintings up on my mom and dads fence that faces the bike trail as sort of a joke. I hadn’t planned on hanging any more of them. My mom kept telling me stories of how people passing by would comment and compliment them. I painted a couple more, and hung them. It seemed as though my parents were getting a kick out of it. I would paint more, and hang them as it was getting dark outside. I thought for sure I’d get caught and get yelled at, or at least threatened to have the county called on me. I’m still not sure if what I’m doing is against some kind of code. The more paintings I hung, the more stories of compliments I heard from my parents. This fence painting stuff has spiraled out of control now. LOL! I’ll be painting the entire length of their privacy fence now. My parent’s neighbor wants me to paint on his fence now. That’s a lot of paintings. I hope to get some good suggestions from the people who walk and ride the trail. The past few times I’ve been out there putting up something new, people stop and chat with me. Everyone has been very nice, and I really appreciate all the compliments : ) I’m only planning on keeping this Facebook
account until I’m finished painting the fence, or fences. Maybe I’ll paint the fences all the way to Lake Mary Blvd. HA!! How far’s that again?”
The photos I took and those that are shared on Facebook and the website really don’t do the project justice – it needs to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.
This is the kind of movement I hope picks up steam in other parts of the country – including Seattle. It would be great to see similar works of art pop up along the Burke-Gillman or Interurban Trails in the area. I am a big believer in art and what it brings to our lives – and I say kudos firstname.lastname@example.org for his imagination and work here!
So today was the seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day. Said who? Oh, that would be according to Autism Speaks, the most famous of the many Autism-related non-profit organizations. And while one might say that Autism Speaks has certainly done a fine job of raising the overall awareness of Autism during this time, I have to think that the fact that the rate of kids being diagnosed on the spectrum has shot up to 1 in 66 has had as much to do with the public becoming more aware than a single marketing campaign. And yes, Light It Up Blue is indeed a marketing campaign for Autism Speaks (they even have a trademark on it).
In many ways Autism Speaks has become a bit like the Susan G. Komen Foundation of the Autism world. It’s a very controversial organization within the Autism community. For while it has succeeded in generating massive amounts of PR and awareness for itself (and the cause), there are many who object to its focus on directing the bulk of the money raised towards genetic-based research – and lining the pockets of its execs. Autism Speaks has successfully highjacked the color blue and tied it to its cause – just as Susan G. Komen has done with pink and breast cancer.
Is this all bad? No, it’s not all bad. As I said, both organizations have done a tremendous job of raising awareness for their causes – and as a PR and marketing professional, I can vouch for the value of visibility and awareness. It takes a lot of work to cut through the noise that makes up our mass media – increasingly so now with so many media outlets and social media platforms.
But what I personally object to is when I see the many many fundraisers out there that are driven by – or for – Autism Speaks and knowing that this money could be better served going to other causes that will directly help those impacted by Autism TODAY. Yes, it is important that we invest time and resources to try to determine why there has been a surge in Autism over the past 10-20 years, but the fact is there are millions – MILLIONS – of kids and families who are struggling today with finding appropriate therapies, instruction and support to get through this tremendous challenge.
And while the official CDC statistics state that the number is now 1 in 66, many of us parents in the community are quietly speculating that the figure is even higher. Don’t be surprised if in another 2-3 years we see yet another 30 percent increase in kids diagnosed on the spectrum. This is an issue that is hitting us as a society fast and its hitting now.
Now is the time to put the massive resources of our Federal Government behind a coordinated effort to hit the Autism issue head on. There isn’t time to wait for the millions of families who need access to speech, occupational and ABA therapies for their children as they race to address developmental delays.
I’m calling on President Obama to create a Presidential Commission on Autism – this would be a legacy he can provide that would rival Obamacare. The charter of the commission needs to be twofold 1) determine what is behind the rise in Autism in this country the past 20 years. This means examining ALL potential environmental factors including yes, vaccines. The US has by far the most aggressive childhood vaccination schedule of all developed countries and also have the highest rate of Autism in the world. Does correlation mean causation? No – not necessarily. But we need to be clear-eyed when we try to figure out why and how there can be millions (yes millions) of stories from parents who talk about otherwise normally developing babies and toddlers who somehow, for some reason, regressed dramatically – often after a series of vaccinations.
2) create a plan that provides financial support for families who need additional therapy and assistance for their children – and also provides even more training and incentives for professionals to move into this area to fill the void that now exists between supply and demand for services. And this gap will only get wider as the numbers of kids diagnosed on the spectrum increases. What is rapidly happening is that those families/parents who have financial means (either through strong insurance policies with their employers like Microsoft of Amazon or their own finances) are those who are securing the most services for their kids. Low-income and those with poor (or no) insurance are stuck – and that is just heart breaking.
So I’m not sure exactly what it takes to create momentum and action required to create this kind of Presidential Commission but it is one of my new dreams and goals for the future.
But back to Autism Speaks, Autism Awareness Month and Light It Up Blue Day. There was one very positive development that I wanted to note today. Autism Speaks and Sesame Street announced hat they were joining forces to develop a new Autism initiative. According to Autism Speaks, “The initiative, “See Amazing in All Children,” will aim to increase understanding, reduce stigma, and demonstrate the commonalities that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) share with all children. The Workshop will also develop tools and resources for families of children with ASD to help them reduce the stress of everyday routines, such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, trying a new food, or playing with other children.”
I applaud both Autism Speaks and Sesame Street for this initiative as it is an example of something that will help today and the near future – and I look forward to watching it develop.
In the meantime, if you do want to help provide support to worthy organizations that provide support to those impacted by Autism, I urge you to check out Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy or TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), to name but two groups working hard to help families.
: a person who you like and enjoy being with
This is the definition of a friend according to Merriam-Webster and I find it hard to argue with it. I would probably add a little more to it though. A real friend is someone who you may have long gaps between seeing or talking with – yet when you reconnect it feels as if no time has passed and you instantly pick up where you left off.
Today I want to wish a very (belated) Happy Birthday to my friend Don – he is someone who definitely fits both of the above definitions. And its crazy to think that he and I have actually known each other since we were in Kindergarten – more than four decades!
While Don and I knew each other through elementary school it really wasn’t until grades 6 and 7 when we became good friends and hung out together. Back then kids didn’t get rides to school unless it was absolutely pouring rain – so we would ride our bikes to school together and hang out after school at each other’s homes. Our intermediate school was about 2 miles from our homes so we had plenty of time to talk during our rides back and forth. Sometimes Don would juggle his cassette recorder on his handlebars and we’d listen to tapes he made of the previous weekend’s American Top 40 (I remember lots of Hall and Oates in those days).
When you have a friendship that is as long and strong as the one Don and I share, its hard to pick just a few highlights of the times we’ve shared together. Was it organizing a team in the city youth baseball league in high school and practicing together – only to see our team lose every (yes every) game over two summer seasons? Hmm – probably not. But that did happen. And in spite of the pain and agony of losing games every which way imaginable, we did manage to find fun in these games and learned how to both persevere – and laugh at ourselves – through the experience.
I think Don would agree that one of our best memories of high school was Halloween during our sophomore year. He and I decided to go all-out in decorating our two-story home for the holiday and erected a few pieces of plywood that featured life-sized witches and ghosts over the doorway. We were quite proud of our work until riding to school one day a classmate (and notorious local bully) told us that he and some friends were going to “mess up” the decorations on our house. Why? We had no idea – this was just the kind of kid he was.
We weren’t really sure what to do about it initially but a sudden teacher’s strike at the high school on Halloween day gave us the full day to prepare. We hatched a plan where we would hide in waiting on the roof of the house, wait for the bully and his gang to strike, and then counter attack with water balloons and eggs. We went to the local five-and-dime store and bought our supplies. One of us had the bright idea to add sugar to the water in the balloons to make them extra sticky.
When we got home we shared the situation and plans with my older brother and sister. They both wanted to get in on the operation to help defend the house against the bullies. Lynette and her boyfriend were handing out candy to trick-or-treaters so we stocked them with two buckets of balloons for a ground attack. Don took his position behind the plywood above the doorway and I hid on the garage roof – which was perpendicular to the walkway leading up to our house. And we waited – but not for long.
Soon we heard and saw the gang approaching our house and they were yelling and taunting us. “I thought you were going to protect your house Kaufer!” They hurled a few eggs at our garage door and approached the house. As they got closer Don stood up and cocked his arm – and I initially froze. But soon he launched a water balloon and the assault was on. I grabbed my eggs and balloons and started chucking them as fast as I could. Our front door flew open and Lynette and her boyfriend emerged with their collection of balloons and eggs. These guys had no idea what hit them. The leader saw me on the garage and attacked the fence attached to it and tried to climb it. I peered over him and continued to nail him from point blank range until he backed off.
Finally they retreated in defeat and sulked off into the night. Our job was complete. And Don’s reputation as a loyal (and brave) friend was secured – and remains to this day.
Even though Don has lived in Southern California since our college days and I’ve relocated to the Northwest, we still manage to get together and have great talks – and times – together. I’m lucky in that all of my friends have amazing senses of humor but if you were to ask Renee, her vote is for Don as my absolute funniest friend. And I don’t think my Mom would disagree. She still laughs remembering Don hanging out at our home and talking about the giant oil tankers he saw on Lake Tahoe or answering our door when we had a delivery and yelling “Mom – its for you!” (in those days the idea of an Asian-American teen with a white mom in Walnut Creek raised more than a few eyebrows among the UPS drivers).
Probably the biggest compliment you can give any friend is to say that if you need them for any reason – they will be there for you no matter the situation, day or or time. I can truly say this about Don. I’ve visited Southern California on dozens of occasions over the past 25+ years for both business and Oregon Ducks games and no matter how inconvenient or far away I’ve stayed, Don always takes time to fight through Southern California traffic to spend time together.
Don also was responsible for helping one of my lifetime dreams come true: watching my San Francisco Giants play in the World Series in 1989. At the time I was living in Portland and he called me and said he had gotten ahold of tickets for the rescheduled (after the Bay Area earthquake) Game 3. The only catch was the game was the next night – I would have to drive all night from Portland to get there in time. After securing time off from work, I quickly packed a duffel bag and hit I-5 for the overnight drive. Along the way I ran out of gas, received a speeding ticket and gave myself welts from pinching myself to stay awake – but I did make it…only to watch the Giants get crushed by the A’s. But I didn’t really care about the outcome – the earthquake put the game and series into perspective. For me it was all about being at Candlestick Park for the experience and opportunity to see my favorite team compete for a championship – with one of my closest friends.
There is so much more I can say or write about Don but by now I think its clear that he’s a pretty great guy whose friendship I truly treasure. And so even though this post will technically miss his birthday by a few hours (it’s February 6th) I will still wish him a very happy day. Don: here’s to a fun-filled year ahead and I hope we have an opportunity to create more memories together.
I consider myself very fortunate to have so many friendships that have literally spanned decades. From childhood and elementary school friends in Walnut Creek, California to college friends I met in Eugene, Oregon, I have a collection of incredibly funny, smart and loyal friends who I wouldn’t trade for the world. And even though life is busier than ever for all of us and we don’t get to talk or get together as often as we used to (or would like), its still comforting to know there are people out there who you know you could turn to in need – and they would be there.
Two such people I want to feature today are my
old long-time friends I first met as a 20 year old junior transfer moving into Clark Hall at the University of Oregon in Fall of 1985, Kelly and Cami. Clark Hall was a coed dorm and the majority of the students were first-year freshmen – I was one of only 2 community college transfers. The three story dorm had boys on the first and third floors, while girls occupied the second floor.
I remember meeting Cami first – it was literally my first night in the dorms. We had organized a drinking game of “quarters” in our dorm room and she and her roommate walked by, saw the open door and asked if they could join. We quickly became friends as I appreciated her quick-wit, intelligence and easy-going personality. And believe me, Cami was easily the smartest student in our entire dorm – but was always incredibly humble and modest about this fact.
I can’t remember the exact moment Kelly and I first met but I know it didn’t take long for us to bond (even though she was a Cowboys fan) because she also had a passion for sports and more than held her own talking football, basketball and even Indy car racing.
Cami, Kelly and I all began that year with roommates who turned out to be not so compatible – so we moved after the conclusion of the first quarter. By that time Cami and Kelly had become good friends – and they decided to be roommates. In the meantime, I moved in with a Danish foreign exchange student, Niels (I’ll write about him more in a separate post).
The new living arrangements made life much easier (and fun) for all involved and we collectively spent more time hanging out and playing together. Kelly and I played on an IM basketball team that Winter and I still remind her that I remember walking to the gym together and listening to her pound the basketball with her hands over and over “because this is how you get the best feel for the ball before a game” (according to her high school coach). Even more memorable was an unusually warm spring evening that erupted into a raging spontaneous dorm party that included a game of H.O.R.S.E. on the adjacent basketball courts. We jokingly called Cami “Spud Webb” as she chucked up shot after shot (with lots of laughter).
The friendship continued through my senior year when I lived in an apartment with two other girls from our dorm (Ida and Anna – who also will be featured in a future blog post) and Kelly and Cami were nearby in theirs. I don’t think there were many (if any) weeks that year that we didn’t spend time together – whether it was going to Arnold’s for trivia and .25 cent taco night during the week or cutting loose at Rennie’s Landing and Guido’s on the weekend.
It’s easy for many friendships to fade away once college is over and people move away but luckily I’ve been able to maintain my friendships with Kelly and Cami over the years. After graduation I went back to visit Eugene a few times and we would always make a point of trying to connect at a Ducks football game or other outing.
We all attended each other’s weddings and have stayed in touch through the introduction of children, moves to other states and new chapters in our lives. Kelly and Cami both have two children – each with a son and daughter. And I can tell that both are amazing moms.
Of course Facebook makes it easier for all of us to keep tabs on each other’s lives and to provide support (or laughter) when needed. Kelly was one of my biggest supporters when I decided to again venture out on my own with a new agency (being a successful entrepreneur herself) and Cami has offered many words of support as I’ve shared parenting woes ranging from Croup’s cough to our challenges with Autism. In September 2012 we organized a mini-reunion here in Seattle for the Oregon-WSU game and it was incredibly special to be able to introduce Kelly and Cami to my children and again enjoy sharing time together before and after a Ducks football game.
I’m very proud (and lucky) to call these women my friends.
Nice clip of Temple Grandin speaking on CNN about her experiences growing up and living with Autism. It is so important to hear her and others such as Carly Fleischmann share their perspectives so that we can better understand our own kids as well as the growing number of kids who find themselves on the spectrum.
Its Super Bowl week and the city of Seattle has officially gone Ga-Ga for the Seahawks as the hype and build-up continues. There have been no shortage of Super Bowl-related articles, stories and features in the local and national media, but sometimes a fan just wants to get their hands on good ol’ fashion statistics (or in this case, very new and modern stats!) and immerse themselves in the numbers.
This is a very cool interactive infographic created by StatMilk that allows you to check out literally any individual or team stat about the Broncos or Seahawks (or any of NFL teams) and match them up against each other. There are literally thousands of ways for you to parse, filter and compare statistics using this tool – if you’re a real football stats geek, there is a good chance you’ll spend hours playing around with it.
Enjoy! And lets hope the quality of the actual game matches the hype and build-up!
Its been a full 24 hours since the epic 49ers-Seahawks NFC Championship game concluded. Today I drove Stone to see his special pediatrician in Oregon City so I had plenty of time to digest the contest and revurberations that resulted from Seattle beating the 49ers with a last-second defensive stand.
I went into this game with the attitude that it was the ultimate “win-win” scenario for me. While I wanted my beloved childhood team to make a repeat appearance in the Super Bowl and win that elusive sixth ring, I also thought I would be happy for my adopted hometown Seattle if they won the game. After all, I became an instant Seahawks fan when they entered the NFL as an expansion team. At that time they played in the same division as the Oakland Raiders and were fairly successful at beating them – so that was all I needed to like them. I also loved their early star Quarterback Jim Zorn and they way he would run around to make plays – actually not too dissimilar from current ‘Hawk QB Russell Wilson. I even created my own giant Seahawks poster/bumper sticker and insisted my parents put it on the back of our trailer when we went on camping trips and vacations when I was 14.
Yesterday’s game turned out to be as entertaining (and hard-hitting) as most of us anticipated. And as one of my friends texted me later, it was the kind of game you hate to see one team lose, because it was clear they were both such great teams.
But in the 4th quarter I read reports on Twitter that Seahawks fans threw food on injured 49er linebacker Navarro Bowman – who was being carted out of the stadium after suffering a gruesome knee injury that tore his ACL and MCL moments earlier. I was sick to my stomach reading this report. How could fans be so classless to do such a thing – let alone in a city like Seattle, which typically takes pride in its civility.
And then, after the Seahawks prevailed we all heard Richard Sherman’s rant heard ‘round the world. The news and social media cycle has had more than a day to chew this up and spit it out – long enough for Sherman to make his expected public mea culpa with a public statement and apology. Good for him. While I have tremendous respect for his abilities, I can’t say I have much for that kind of behavior. I think he was an Ass with a capital A at that moment. I’ve watched countless post-game interviews with players who made key/critical plays and can’t recall anything remotely similar to that level of poor sportsmanship. And yes I know we can’t (and shouldn’t) judge a person based on one episode, or as Pete Carroll put it today, “We aren’t perfect, and we all make mistakes.” Fair enough. As an aside, given that the Seahawks lead the NFL in PED suspensions, I think its clear that Carroll has become a leading authority in “mistakes” football players make. But thats besides the point. Back to yesterday’s game.
I expected my reaction to the Seahawks going to this Super Bowl to be similar to when they beat Carolina in January 2006 and I was genuinely thrilled for the team and region. Maybe it was because that Seahawks team came out of nowhere and wasn’t expected to be a contender that made that experience more fun. Maybe it was because the 49ers stunk that year so it was easier for me to jump on the Seahawks bandwagon. Maybe it was because it was before social media and so many obnoxious fans on Twitter. I’m not sure but the feeling was definitely different 8 years ago.
I’ve been as passionate a sports fan as any out there and as I’ve gotten older and (hopefully) more mature, I’ve tried to improve my own sportsmanship when it comes to dealing with other fan bases. I’m all for good-natured ribbing and teasing – and I’m lucky that I have friends who are fans of many teams that are natural rivals of my favorite teams who know how to give and take.
But I have been genuinely surprised at the level of outright hostility I’ve observed from local Seahawks fans at 49er players, coaches and fans. Local sports talk radio routinely refer to Jim Harbaugh as “Douchebag” and I’ve lost track at the number of times I’ve heard Kaepernick referred to as a “thug” (or worse).
And I suppose all of this is considered fair when it comes to sports – especially in the build up to such a big game. But even after the Seahawks prevailed and punched their ticket to New Jersey for the Super Bowl, I’ve been surprised to see so many Seahawks fans take (seemingly) as much glee in the 49ers loss – as in the Seattle win. I’ve seen very few comments by Seahawks fans about what a great game it actually was (or kudos to the 49ers for pushing the #1 seed to the brink). Maybe that’s expecting too much? I guess I truly don’t understand because even when I sat in Candlestick Park and watched The Catch knock out the truly hated Cowboys and propel the 49ers to their first Super Bowl, my first thought wasn’t too taunt Dallas fans (even as an immature 16 year old). My only thought was about how the 49ers were going to the Super Bowl!!! And the fact that they did it against a team that had knocked them out of the playoffs so many times earlier in their history made it more gratifying of course.
I sat through a similarly thrilling game when Oregon played Auburn for the BCS Championship in 2011. And just as my 49ers lost in the closing seconds of yesterday’s game, my Ducks lost late when Auburn kicked a field goal on the final play to pull out the victory. We had been sitting among Auburn fans and they were passionate – and extremely civil – throughout the game. After the kick was made, two Auburn fans who had been sitting in front of and interacted with us throughout the game turned around and shook our hands and said “great game – it’s a shame when it comes down to a fluke play (referring to the controversial Michael Dyer run – which set up the game-winning kick).
Last November I sat through the Ducks stumbling through a tough loss to Stanford in Palo Alto – another game when the final result was still in doubt in the final moments. And after this game Stanford fans around me patted me on the back, shook my hand and talked about how impressed they were with Oregon’s resolve at the end of the game.
Both are examples of what I call winning with class.
The Seahawks will be lining up against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl and there is no player or quarterback I respect more than Peyton Manning. He has been the epitome of professionalism throughout his career and has excelled beyond expectations on the field after returning from what many considered were career-ending neck surgeries. I would be very happy to see Peyton win his 2nd Super Bowl and earn his rightful spot among the top 5 all-time great quarterbacks. So its not like the Broncos are an easy team to root AGAINST in this Super Bowl.
Its been well-documented that Seattle sports fans have only been able to celebrate one major championship – the SuperSonics NBA crown waaaay back in 1979. And this is the reason why I thought heading into yesterday’s NFC Championship Game it would be cool if the Seahawks finally brought home the Lombardi Trophy to the Emerald City.
I’ve long believed that every fan base deserves to experience the feeling of at least one championship. Given the amount of energy, emotion and passion fans put into their teams, they deserve that ROI once in their life. And there is no doubt that Seahawks fans are some of the most passionate in the NFL – the 12th man is no joke.
So at the end of the day I guess I’m still going to pull for the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl so I can see this city celebrate. I just hope they (and their fans) handle it with class.