Football: Weathering the Storm

By Kersley Fitzgerald

I was really anxious this weekend.

My team (Dev's second team) was in the play-offs. I haven't watched too many games this season, but I watched this one. Well, most of this one. They tend to lose if I pay attention too closely.

But we made it. I sighed and collapsed on the couch. Then I saw the first post-game interview.

As I said, I haven't watched too many games this season, and I don't know anything about the players. All I knew from Richard Sherman was that between his balaclava and his hair, he looked like the spawn of Cthulhu. But if the posts on my Facebook newsfeed are any indication, people seem to think he is the spawn of Cthulhu.

Since then I've read some. Apparently a 49er said something and he said something back and hit him on the butt, and the 49er pushed him in the face mask. Sherman continued the argument during an interview with a completely unprepared sportscaster. Frankly, I saw worse smack-talking from Bronco fans on Facebook about a minute later.

So, I dunno. Maybe he's a punk. Maybe all his teammates are punks. But I don't care.

Because when I see that fierce blue and green bird, I'm not thinking about Sherman. He was born in California the year I graduated from high school. He's played for my team for two years.

Richard Sherman is a player, but he is not whole sum of the Seahawks.

The Seahawks are Jim Zorn. And Dave Krieg. And Walter Moon. And Matt Hasselbeck. And Steve bloody Largent. They are my dad and my grandpa and my college friend Kara and Kristi — my aunt-who-is-younger-than-me. They're the 12th man who are so loud our defense has trouble. They are the King Dome dropping pieces of itself on the stands, and the blue-diamonded Tacoma-Dome where they played until the current stadium was finished. They are the loss in the 2005 Super Bowl — the only year they've been.

And they are me, who had to leave that 2005 game early to go to chapel worship practice, wearing my blue t-shirt and taking all that the Steelers' fans cared to give.

That was in Hawaii, and our time there taught me something else about who the Seahawks are. Because it appears that Hawaiians consider the Seahawks to be their local team. So do Oregonians, Alaskans, and Montanans. I don't know about Idahoans, but I'm willing to bet them, too.

This philosophizing is probably because I'm half-through rereading Elizabeth Moon's high fantasy classic The Deed of Paksennarion. Paks wants nothing more than to be a warrior on the side of right. The mercenary company she joins allows her to be that until the commanding Duke has a lapse of judgment and she finds she can no longer serve him. She is caught, then, between showing allegiance to the company — and the Duke who is usually a great guy — and explaining why she could not identify with their current actions.

That dichotomy should be familiar to every Christian in this world. In every organization we are a part of, whether team or local church, we have to choose which parts to identify with and which to reject. It doesn't mean we throw it all out.

The local church (or denomination) is a biggie. Do we leave because one elder is a punk? Or because the new Sunday School teacher hasn't found his footing yet? Or do we stick it out because we know it's a part of something bigger? Something we feel a connection to, even if currently that connection is a little battered? Sometimes it's necessary to leave, as Paks left the Duke's company of mercenaries. But sometimes it just takes a little patience on our part to weather the storm.

Yesterday, when I stopped by the grocery store to get snacks, it was a sea of orange. I have a friend who has started the smack-talking early and well. It's justified — the Broncos have been to the Super Bowl six times already and won twice. And the rivalry will only heat up, since they once played the Seahawks regularly before they moved us to the AFC. And it's very likely we will watch this year's game with S. Michael (who will be biting his hand and trying to remember to breathe) and MeLissa (who will be helping JT knit a blue and green hat in between telling players from both teams they're doing a good job), both in orange.

I'm not going to abandon my team because of one cornerback, or even one year's line-up. He is a kid from Compton who does what he does and says what he says because it's the only way he's found to inspire himself to play the game. And it's baffling to me why so many of my friends are saying the Seahawks don't deserve to win because of Sherman, while they ignore the testimonies of players like Russell Wilson. Wheat and tares, baby.

It's all good. One player isn't going to change the fact I am a die-hard Seahawks fan.

Because, have you seen our record over those 38 years? "Die-hard" is the only kind of Seahawks fan there is!

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Published 1-21-14