So this ... is a Super Bowl
by Becky Selm
February 2006

Wow.

I mean to say, WOW!

So this is what itís like to experience a Super Bowl! I had no idea! Honestly, I didnít have a clue how invigorating a Super Bowl can be. Having never been down this path with my own team, I didnít know how much emotional toil was involved. Iím sitting here at my computer less than a week after the game and Iím exhausted. And Iím only a fan!

The weeks leading up to the NFC Championship game were terrific! Having been a Seahawks fan since I watched my first NFL game, I was accustomed to the Seahawks taking the momentum of a winning streak and somehow managing to lose it just when we need it most. In my mind I knew that something was different this year; that we were overcoming obstacles that used to drag us down but my heart, having been broken on more than one occasion, was reluctant to let me fully believe. Thus when we won the division and gained home field advantage, it was with a bit of disbelief! Had we really done it? The Seahawks? Won by skill, not luck? And not only won the division but gained home field advantage? I sat in stunned silence. Shocked. I felt wave after wave of relief and joy calmly wash over me. In the following days, I expected to wake up and find it had been a dream. A dream it was, but it was also reality.

While Seahawks fans were elated, the national media held true to form and still denied us respect. All through the season as we chalked up victory after victory, they kept saying that weíd have to beat the next opponent to make a statement Ö and the next opponent after that Ö and then, well, just one more opponent. None of our wins seemed to elevate our status in their eyes. They always made excuses why the opponent lost; rarely gave kudos to the Seahawks for their skill. We proved the naysayers wrong when we walked away with the NFL Championship! What a party it was! For the first time in years, the players gave credit to #12! Fans flocked to stores to stock up on Seahawks gear! The Seahawks were going to the Super Bowl!

Or were they?

The players were, of course. But how about the fans? I knew Super Bowl tickets were hard to come by. I knew they fetched a premium price. Face value of the limited tickets made available to Seahawks season ticket holders via a lottery were $600; however the market demanded $2000-3000 for nosebleed seats.

But never mind! The hype and the hoopla of winning the Championship took my thoughts away from the extravagant prices of the Super Bowl! USA Today contacted me for an interview. Then came the Detroit News. An Aussie journalist traveling to the US to report on the Super Bowl wanted to get in touch with fans in Seattle. Minneapolis came calling, as did Houston. The Associated Press needed information; Tri-Cities was putting together a Super Bowl Snacks feature with trivia; in fact, everyone wanted to run Seahawks trivia in their newspaper! Almost every day radio and print media contacted me for information. The Canadians were relentless, wanting me (specifically) for a live radio show. WHY?!? It boggled my mind.

Meanwhile the questions tumbled down like an avalanche. Where can I find fans that will be at the game? Where can I find parties in Seattle? What do you know about the Seahawks very first game? I answered the questions as best I could and hunted down fans they could talk to for other information. It was a full time job above and beyond my 8-5 accounting job (during audit season, no less!)

If it wasnít the media, it was the fans! Suddenly everyone wanted a personal connection to the Seahawks! I believe my brother was delivered on the same day by the same obstetrician who delivered Jim Zorn! Or Ö I think my sister-in-law may have been one of the people who originally came up with the name Seahawks. Fans wrote to me wanting to know where the best sports bar was in Washington, D.C. (uhÖI donít know?!), who the original #12 was (QB Gary Keithley), what foods best signify the Seahawks (all I could think of was the no-longer-applicable Dilfer Dog!)

I couldnít take it any longer! Phooey on the extravagant prices! I was going to Detroit! There was WAY too much excitement in the air to miss out on the adventure! I got on-line. Airfare to Detroit was outrageous but airfare to Indianapolis was under $100. I could rent a car and drive (or hitch a ride with a friend.) I checked hotels. Ouch. 3 night minimum, $300/night. OK, that was going to add a lot to the budget. Oh well, itís the Seahawks in the Super Bowl!

Iíve always wanted to go to the Taste of the NFL. Call it the girlie in me. They bring in a top chef from every NFL city to cook one specialty. I pulled it up on-line. What? $750? OK, yes, the proceeds go to charity b-b-b-b-butÖ$750? For one meal? One fabulous meal and some entertainment? Wow, thatísÖa lot. A whole lot.

Oh well! Weíre going to the Super Bowl! This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! INDULGE! I got on eBay to look for tickets to the game. I checked Seattle travel agencies. I pulled up the special deals offered to members of the Sea Hawkers. I fired off emails to connected friends. The cheapest deal I found was $2000 for a seat in the upper level. I added up the numbers. 4 days in Detroit was going to cost me a minimum of $4000. Even if I did away with the $750 Taste of the NFL, it was still $3250. For that price I could take my entire family to Seattle for two weeks. I could take a 2-week trip to Australia. $3250 forÖDetroit? I couldnít do it.

For the first time in my life I realized that the Super Bowl is not for the fans. Itís not for the people who loved their team even in lean years. The Super Bowl is big business. A corporate affair. The place for the well-connected. It was a shocking revelation. I felt a sense of loss, a sense of grief. All the fans Iíve met over the past 10 years who waited for this Super Bowl Ė all the fans who had dreamed of going to our big game Ė were sitting at home to watch the game. It didnít seem right. I resigned myself to watching from home. I considered flying to Indianapolis, driving to Detroit on Saturday with fans from Indy who were going up for the tailgate parties, then flying home Sunday morning. But it seemed a big trip for, well, Detroit.

But never mind! Life went on! I had an interview to do with a member of the Seahawks Ring of Honor, and more media requests were tumbling in! There was no time for pouting! I had work to do!

Then it hit me! Maybe I couldnít be in Detroit, but I could fly to Seattle! I could watch the game in a sports bar with other Seahawks fans! Better yet, Paul Allen would surely rig up something at Qwest Stadium so that all of us could sit together and watch the game as if we had home field advantage! I could be in the city I so dearly love surrounded by die hard fans when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl! I could meet the plane when the Champions arrive home in Seattle, and I could be there for the parade! I checked into airfare -- $200 round trip. I checked into hotel accommodations -- $100/night in the downtown area (as inexpensive as Iíve ever seen it!) I checked into the events that were scheduled Ė only to be bitterly disappointed yet again! Seattle was doing next to nothing. Oh, there was a rally for fans, but no players (or former players) were scheduled to be there. There would be no event at the stadium because Seattle felt they owed it to the nightclub owners to receive revenue from fans watching in their establishments. I realized then that Seattle doesnít know how to throw a Super Bowl party. Weíve never been there. Weíve never done that. I put aside my plans to travel to Seattle, heartbroken for the moment.

But who has time to dwell on petty things like that? There was a controversy brewing! Texas A&M was miffed about the great #12! Seems they didnít want Seattle flying the 12th Man flag, claiming to own the rights on the expression. Where were they when we were 2-2 earlier in the season? Were they outraged then? Where were they in all our losing years since 1984? Did they raise a stink in those years? Well, yes, a moderate stink. They did apparently send a letter to the Seahawks; a letter that went unanswered from what Iíve been able to decipher. But the point of it is that they didnít go public with the protest until the Seahawks had achieved great success! The timing is suspect to say the least!

As if that wasnít enough, Seattle had their own 12th Man controversy! The local newspaper did a story on how Randy Ford was the person responsible for the idea of retiring the #12 jersey. The paper received a scathing letter from Karen Ford, Randyís ex-wife, informing them that it was her idea, they presented it together to the Seahawks, and she was awarded the tickets and the jersey in their divorce decree! Perhaps I should have known at this point that the Seahawks luck had run out.

I didnít think the big game would ever arrive! The two weeks between the Championship and the Super Bowl were two of the longest/shortest weeks I can recall! The days were jam packed with activity, thus individually they passed quickly but overall it seemed as if the big game would never get here! But it did arrive. My daughter and I wore our Seahawks jerseys to church that morning and faithfully took cases of Campbellís soup to stack under the Seahawks banner for Soup-er Bowl Sunday to feed the homeless. I was dismayed to see that the Steelers had more soup donations than the Seahawks. Another omen?

I went home and prepared the tailgate party foods. I was too nervous and excited to eat, but I had things ready for the big event just the same. I worked all afternoon right up to the start of the pre-game festivities. I was a wreck.

The game? Well, thatís history. The Seahawks didnít play as well as they could have. I was optimistic through the first half, and devastated in the second. Never mind that the officiating seemed to go against Seattle (see XL Controversy), the bottom line is that we didnít play to our potential. Pittsburgh didnít beat us, we beat ourselves. By failing to outfox the officials, by failing to put the game away when we clearly had the momentum, by failing to put points on the board when opportunities came, we beat ourselves.

I was exhausted. I felt a twinge of relief that I hadnít spent my savings to travel to Detroit where Iíd have to hang my head and listen to the heckling from the crowd that was 90% Steelers fans. I was glad I wasnít fighting traffic in Detroit, facing the bitter cold of winter with the bitter cold of a Super Bowl loss. I was glad I didnít have the losing end of a long flight home. I remembered the times Iíve flown before, sitting in the airport with fans of our opponent, one of us ecstatic, the other downcast.

So this is a Super Bowl experience.

This is it.

Two months later I can hold my head high. Iím so proud of the Seattle Seahawks for making it to the big game! The pain of the loss isnít as sharp, though the bitterness of officiating still lingers. I have a sour taste in my mouth from Pittsburgh Steeler fans, even though the majority of them I have met are very kind. Our thoughts so quickly turned from the big game to the free agency and upcoming draft. Everything is happening so fast. Thereís no time to catch our breath. We went from the season to the post season to the free agency with no down time. Fans are already talking about the fall season.

So this is a Super Bowl experience. This is what it feels like. This is the way it is.

Wow. I love it!