For some reason, the long-anticipated nationwide vote that took place in Thailand early last week was not postponed so everyone could watch the Super Bowl. One has to question a country’s priorities when a the American sporting event is not given the attention it deserves. How can the Thais ever expect to fully embrace democracy if they cannot be treated to the sight of huge American football players — some as large as the obese tourists wandering about on Sukhumvit Road — smashing into each other with spinal-injury force?
It is of course a special source of pride for me, a former Seattleite, to see the Seahawks triumph over the Broncos, and in such convincing fashion. With my self-esteem so closely tied to the team’s success, I now have a convincing reason to feel better about myself. The street walkers and bar girls I’ve met since that marvelous victory have encountered a new me, someone no longer so shy and who can effortlessly engage them in rabid speculation regarding the development of the Seahawks’ quarterback and whether the team’s defense can continue their domination next season. But these exchanges have not gotten off the ground. When I introduce myself as being from Seattle, Washington, they first look bewildered, then say oh, Washington D.C. Mistaking the Emerald City, the jewel of the Pacific Northwest, with the nation’s capital. Again, these people need to learn what’s important.
Being confused with “that other Washington” and the lack of significance that implies has always been a concern to the denizens of my hometown, who for many years have been infected with a desperate need to be considered “major league” in the eyes of the world. Apparently the formula to attain this ill-defined label involves building monster sports stadiums, which the civic leaders duly began in the late 1990s. And while the two grandiose structures have not exactly been overflowing with championship banners, they do make a head-turning sight south of the downtown, large enough to be visible from the surface of the moon. The one for the Seahawks was partially paid for by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and someone who doesn’t need to collect grocery coupons. Since he was down to his last thirty billion dollars at the time, the taxpayers generously picked up the rest of the bill. I doubt if many of them this week are regretting that sacrifice with people everywhere (or at least outside of Nana Plaza) learning how to say “Se-a-ttle”.
The win is also a vindication for the leaders of the local S.O.S (Save Our Seahawks) organization. Back when the team was making noises about relocating without a new stadium, it was these people who stepped up and helped persuade Mr. Allen to open his checkbook. Too bad the group did not build on that success and tackle other, equally important, civic concerns such as the shortage of accommodations in Seattle for displaced youths and abused women. Something like Save Our Shelters, perhaps. Would not even have needed to change their acronym.
But mostly this victory belongs to the loyal fans. In particular those who continued to purchase tickets year in and year out back when the team managed to go almost two decades without winning even a single playoff game. (Most of those years the season was pretty much over by the middle of October.) Theirs is a heartwarming testimony to the endurance of hope from which we can all draw inspiration as we wish for better understanding and a more peaceful world in 2014. Or, failing that, at least a speedy, head-cracking defense.