By Mike Gold, A retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest.
Okay, I’m pretty sure that about half of the readers of this particular column will not agree with me, while I think the other half will.
A friend was kind enough to bring me to last Sunday’s Seahawks game at Century Field. This game was really important in that if the Seahawks won and Carolina beat Atlanta, the Seahawks would get into the NFL playoffs this year. (As most of you no doubt know, neither result happened so for the first time in six years or so, the Seahawks didn’t make it into the playoffs.)
Let’s start with one’s entrance into the stadium. We tailgated for an hour or so before the game. We wandered into our seats about 15 minutes before kickoff. One is immediately struck (you’d have to be dead to not notice this) by the maddening volume of the pre-game activities. Some music was playing through the PA system in the stadium while the Sea Gals (their cheerleaders) were strutting their stuff down on the field.
When I say the music was “loud,” that is a galactic understatement. It was not simply loud, but loud enough to actually hurt my ears. I’m guessing that the amount of electricity required to power this was sufficient to light up 10,000 homes.
Meanwhile, the fans that were already in their seats (more about that later) were adding to the volume by shouting enthusiastically about everything and anything.
When walking into this event, I immediately thought of the Roman Chariot races (as depicted in the movie "Ben Hur"). It would not have surprised me to have seen a human sacrifice take place at mid-field.
Okay, let’s get to the kickoff. From fans in their seats above: Whenever the opponent was on offense and our defense was on the field, every fan stood up – sometimes sitting down between plays. In fact, other than a few minutes between certain plays, people would rarely sit down. Throughout the game, it was stand-sit-stand-sit. I think I got more exercise during this game than I do at my morning visit to the gym.
Now besides the sitting/standing, whenever the ‘hawks’ were on defense, every person in the stadium was screaming at the top of their lungs. I thought the young woman directly behind me was going to expel her vocal cords. If possible, the volume of noise was far louder than during the pre-game show.
In fact (see photo), I found I had to stuff tissue paper in my ears in order to not feel as if I was going to go deaf. Before I found the tissue paper, I had to insert my fingers into my ear to block out the painful noise. A nearby fan handed me some earplugs. I tried them, but they did not work on that volume of noise. It is hard for me to imagine a fan attending every home game, say for a few years in a row, and not have them become significantly hard of hearing.
Now listen, I fully understand rooting for one’s team. Some of you will be distressed to find out I’ve been a New England Patriots fan for about 20 years (from when we lived in Massachusetts). I’ve attended many games at their home Foxborough (Gillette) Stadium. Perhaps it’s because the stadium design in Foxborough does not contain and reflect the noise back on the patrons that makes the difference. Century Link Field seems to be built to keep all the noise within the stadium.
Now Patriots fans are just as “rabid” as any other home fans are. In fact, drinking at Foxborough Stadium can get so bad that they stopped selling beer after the third quarter. Too many drunks causing disturbances. But one does not leave a Patriots home game wondering if they will ever hear correctly again.
Last point about all of this. Rooting so hard for your home team (in any sport) seems to fulfill some “need” in the fans. Perhaps it’s that unlike real life, where one loses frequently, the fans are projecting their own “need” onto the team. Also, if any referee makes any call against the home team, the volume of booing and unprintable insults I heard last Sunday would make a street hustler blush.
I want to thank my friend for taking me. Tickets, parking, and concessions can cost as much as your monthly house payment. But I actually enjoyed myself, losses notwithstanding. By the way the Patriots on the same day, beat the New York Jets (not hard to do) and drew a bye the first week of the playoffs and home field advantage through the AFC playoffs. Hey, don’t get mad at me, I am only an observer.