A frosty plume of warm air jets into the air as a single player gets ready, eyeing the field only hours before game time, wondering just what the outcome will be once they step onto that gridiron to do battle with the opposing team. In the stands, in their living rooms, and in other, similar locations, millions of fans prepare themselves for an event that occurs every August to early February, an event that turns sane men and women into raving, howling lunatics for several hours a day at least once a week if not more. This is the NFL, and on game day millions of fans around the world tune in to watch their team pummel the opposing players into the turf, every cheer and exclamation a struggle in futility as fans try to push their favorite players to work harder. The NFL does a great deal to insure that the people have a reason to cheer so hard.
Since its inception back in 1920, the NFL has become a mainstay of American culture, a constant that has gained the attention of millions around the globe and has influenced everything from the hopes and dreams of small children to Las Vegas odds and even, remarkably, the stock market. Though not infallible, the stock market possesses a “Superbowl Indicator” that has to date boasted a remarkable 80% accuracy in deciding how the stock market will rise and fall. Generally if an AFC team wins the championship, the market will drop, while if the NFC takes the title, the market will rise. (Investopedia) As it’s already been pointed out this is not an infallible or in any way accurate method by which to invest, but it is highly indicative of how professional sports, the NFL specifically, has affected our culture. Yet despite the fluctuating fan base that can be found throughout the nation, few among those numbers cover a region quite as vast as that of the vaunted 12th man followers, the Seattle Seahawks faithful that have stuck by their team much as other diehard fans have done.
Among the league there are many who label Seattle fans as bandwagoners and fair-weather fans, claiming the fan base makes absolutely no noise unless the team is winning. Despite a recent Superbowl win in early 2014 and a team that has grown in its dominance and its influence throughout the Pacific Northwest, doubters staunchly refuse to give way in their heated opinions that the Seahawks are irrelevant and will not last through the coming years. While as a team and an organization the Seahawks have come a long way, the stain of their earlier years still haunts them as they move into the ranks of Superbowl champions that have come and gone.
If one takes a long look at other organizations that have endured such hardship and so many difficult years however it can be seen that true fandom goes beyond the football field, and even beyond the game itself most times. Through the empowerment of the NFL millions of fans have come to realize that despite the actions of the owners, the coaches, and the general managers, their influence is felt most keenly when a team is suffering a slump, much as the Seahawks have done until recent years. Though it is the final decision of those in power to decide in which direction a team will move, it is also in their power to decide whether or not the fans will come to agree with and support their decisions based upon many factors that fans have at least a moderate amount of control over.
The Seattle Seahawks have done a great deal for their community as well as participated in outreach programs that are geared towards advantageous youth programs, creating a safe and respectable community, and even expanding their reach through several fundraising charities set up in the names of several prominent players. Moreover, one of the stars of the team, no less than starting quarterback Russell Wilson, has been seen to visit the Seattle Children’s Hospital once a week, claiming that “It’s the best part of my week.” (Phillips, Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Other charitable organizations associated with the Superbowl champions include Russell Okung’s UP Foundation, which reaches out to single-parent children, the Kam Cares Foundation which focuses upon local and global community and aiding the less fortunate, the Cliff Avril Foundation which is focused upon healthy living through nutrition for youth afflicted with diabetes, and even the Derrick Coleman Jr. NO EXCUSE Foundation, which is used to aid and inspire those suffering hearing loss to achieve their dreams and to lessen the acts of bullying and alienation felt by such individuals throughout their lives.
There are several other charitable organizations that the Seahawks endorse and are involved in, aiding the community and impacting them in a positive manner in order to foster goodwill and a true spirit of pride in their communities, be they within the Pacific Northwest or in other regions where the players originally hail from. While many NFL teams sponsor and endorse such foundations and organizations, Seattle has made it a mission to take care of their own, insuring that no matter what happens to the team in the future it has already been decided that they will be seen as a pillar of the community and a very important factor in keeping the northwest a profitable and positive area in which to live.
Not all individuals will show such excitement towards the NFL or any of its affiliate programs, but throughout the northwest it is rather difficult to find a location in which the game of football or the Seattle Seahawks are unknown. Through their community involvement and, in some cases, personal investment within the community, NFL players, coaches, owners, and various staff have given fans a reason to continue their faithful adulation and, on game day, their frenzied and emotional outbursts that range from gleeful exuberance to mass hysteria. As an NFL fan it is important to believe in the organization, and in order for this to happen, the organization itself must provide a reason. Luckily the NFL does recognize its fan base.
Phillips, Michael. (2013) Russell Wilson makes impact in Seattle community. Richmond Times