Lots of cities get whipped into a frenzy when their team gets to play in The Big Sports Ball Contest. And it’s not entirely unreasonable to view the whole 12th Man campaign as a money-driven marketing ploy. So what is it really that the 12th Man tells us about Seattle?
What the 12th Man demonstrates is the strength of the communitarian impulse in Seattle. More than most major American cities, the people of the Seattle metro area embody a “we’re in this together” attitude that enables the area to unite behind big initiatives, as opposed to the “what’s in it for me?” attitude that prevails elsewhere. Certainly many Seahawks fans will be wearing Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman jerseys on Sunday, but when the 12s are out in force, brandishing an identity that rises above and outlasts any single individual’s, it says that what unites us is more important than what divides us and that we’ll make small sacrifices in service of a bigger goal.
Not that there isn’t a dark side to this, notably the passive-aggressive (and sometimes just aggressive) groupthink that permeates the Seattle area. Or the rudeness-masquerading-as-politeness, of which is yielding one’s turn at an all-way stop sign is a prominent example. But it’s a key part of what makes Seattle a great place to live and sustains us through these short, gray days of winter.