Lizard + Snakes + Beast Mode = Just What I Needed

Tough week on the planet? Tough year? 2017 not looking much better? Please…enjoy. (If you’ve seen it already, watch it again. Repetition only makes it better.)

Thank you, Planet Earth, for the footage. Thank you, Reddit Guy, for the mashup. Thank you, Marshawn Lynch, for the run and the narration. Thank you, YouTube, for dropping this in my lap.

Everyone else? Pass it on to whomever needs a lift.

Adventures in Civic Pride Through Sport: “See-ATTLE….SOUNDers!”

I am not a soccer fan. But I’m NOT a not-a-soccer-fan in the way that I’m a not-an-American-football-fan. I actually LIKE soccer.

So while my posts about the Seattle Seahawks and their amazing successes as Super Bowl Champs and crowd-noise world record holders reflect my bemusement at myself for even caring, this post is less of a stretch for me. I’ve always wanted to see a really high-level soccer game, and now I have. True, I would rather be blogging about the women’s World Cup matches going on just north of us this summer. But those are a little harder to get to. The Mate and I have talked about going to a game in Seattle for years, and this past weekend, we finally made it.

But if you’re looking for good sports writing, I’ll have to refer you to SI. This post is more in the realm of cultural anthropology. Here are my field notes:

Evidently Seattle has wealthy donors, and taxpayers, willing to spend quite a bit for a large sports venue–and I do mean LARGE.

Whoa. So BIG.

Whoa. So BIG.

Looking north from Century Link Field (now there’s a name that rolls gracefully off the tongue), one sees the Seattle economy is apparently alive and well.

When did the Emerald City get so SHINY?

When did the Emerald City get so SHINY?

If one didn’t know the team was called the Sounders, one would think we were cheering for the Seattle XBOX. (Is there anther sport which places product names above team names? Maybe NASCAR?)

So my green T-shirt says "Lopez Fun Run," not "XBox." At least mine was free!

So my green T-shirt says “Lopez Fun Run,” not “XBox.” At least mine was free!

The Sounders brag about having the highest attendance in Major League Soccer, and that night they posted 41,000. But nearly the entire upper level of Century Link field’s seats was blocked off until football season, which tells you something about the relative popularity of the two sports. And the power of the 12th Man.

Fully a third of the seats...waiting for the OTHER "football."

Fully a third of the seats…waiting for the OTHER “football.”

The fan base appeared young…some REALLY young. But very prepared.

Responsible parenting reigns in Seattle.

Responsible parenting reigns in Seattle.

This major league team sport does not have cheerleaders. Or rather, the crowd is the cheerleader. (Or, to use the British grammar that dominates soccer-speak, “the crowd ARE the cheerleader.)

The only time I ever saw the crowd prompted to cheer...

The only time I ever saw the crowd prompted to cheer…

No one seemed to miss the cheerleaders; most of the crowd stood (and/or danced) the entire game. And the cheers were very British: “Come on, Seattle. Fight and win!” (Seriously.)

...and it worked! Scarves up!

…and it worked! Scarves up!

Cliff Dempsey being the only Sounder I knew by name (since he plays for the U.S. in World Cup action), I focused my camera on him. It turns out I am a terrible sports photographer.

Ironically, none of Seattle's three goals were scored by this man.

Ironically, none of Seattle’s three goals were scored by this man.

Seattle beat Dallas FC three-nil. That is the only time you’ll hear Americans say “nil.”

Sports Illustrated this ain't.

Sports Illustrated this ain’t.

To conclude this report, here are my (completely objective) findings:

Reasons why soccer is incredibly appealing to people like me and will therefore never replace American football:

–terrifically fast action with no breaks (Need to use the bathroom or get some more snacks? You’re on your own.)

–no cheerleaders (Standing up and dancing for 90 minutes? Wonderfully energizing. And don’t get me started on cheerleaders.)

–no protective gear, so you can really see those athletic bodies at work (although, seeing some of those header collisions…wow. If that were my kid…)

–the women’s game is just as high-powered and skilled as the men’s.

Reasons why soccer is unappealing to people like me and is therefore growing by leaps and bounds within American culture:

–corporate logos are more important than team names. (Say no more.)

–this sport of running and kicking a ball is much more violent than it looks. (And corrupt. But you already knew that.)

Overall? We had a great evening. Parking and beer cost twice as much as the hot dogs we bought on the street, but hey–someone’s got to pay for that stadium, right? And it was still cheaper than one of those jerseys. So, go XBOX! I mean Sounders!


For All Us Northwesterners (And Anyone Else) Who Need a Smile Today: The Dancing Traffic Light.

Superbowl XLIX? Don’t wanna talk about it. And it’s too soon for another baby panda post.

Luckily a friend sent me this–Smart Car’s Dancing Traffic Light. I guarantee it will lighten your heart. If you’ve seen it already, watch it again.

(Courtesy Huffington Post)

(Courtesy Huffington Post)

I couldn’t get the YouTube to upload (it’s been that kind of day), so just click on this link to see it:

See what I mean? Thanks, Smart Car. I needed that.

U-S-A! U-S-A! Uh…What Game Are We Watching Again? The World Cup & the Joys of Fair-Weather Fandom

I can feel it happening again. That un-earned pride. That need to boast. 

“Did you SEE that goal against Ghana?

In the first MINUTE? Yeah, that was Clint Dempsey.

Yup–plays for Seattle. He’s our boy.”

Like I’ve ever been to a Sounders game! Or any pro soccer game! Hey, I mean to, I really do. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But that doesn’t mean my pride in Team USA, and its northwestern components, is any less real.

(orig. image courtesy Erik Drost)

(orig. image courtesy Erik Drost)

Most English-language news stories I’ve heard about the World Cup have centered around the fact that this game seems to finally, maybe, perhaps, at last be catching on with TV viewers: a record 11 million-plus watched that first game, according to ESPN and Forbes. And they’re right, that is a story, though I’d be curious to see an ethnic breakdown to find out how much of that viewership is Mexican by heritage. Either way, it is indisputable that soccer is more popular as a TV sport now than ever before.

But that 11 million? It didn’t include me! I was traveling and didn’t even watch the game. A fact that takes nothing away from my ridiculous sense of pride in the victory. What IS up with that?

Personally, I think the real evidence that Americans have embraced the sport will be when our announcers start referring to the teams in the plural, like the English do: “Team USA have fought bravely tonight…” Could be a long wait.

But meantime? I’ll be happily tuning in, or NOT tuning in and feeling just as good when “my” team wins–especially on last-minute headers by 21 year-old bench players. It worked for me with the 2001 Seattle Mariners when they won 116 games, and again this year when the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl. My fair-weather bandwagonning doesn’t seem to hurt anyone, and if it’s annoying, well, no one’s told me yet to my face, so I’ll keep on cheering from the sidelines…kinda-sorta.

USA soccer? What’s it doing for you? Notice any changes in your fellow Americans? Please share!


Teachable Moments: What Richard Sherman Said To Me

I’ve jumped on a bandwagon and I’m not embarrassed to say it. Richard Sherman, you’re cool in my book. And I’ve learned a lot about myself from thinking about my own reaction to your post-win rant after the NFL Divisional Championship.

For those of you who a) lack Seattle or San Francisco ties, b) couldn’t care less about the NFL, or c) are very smart, thoughtful people who get outside more than the rest of us and enjoy freedom from the death-grip of American capitalism don’t own a TV, let me briefly catch you up.

The 49ers were moments away from beating the Seahawks and heading to the Superbowl. In the end zone, Richard Sherman caught the ball intended for 49er receiver Michael Crabtree, and Seattle won the game. In the immediate-post-game interview conducted by Erin Andrews of Fox, Sherman yelled, “I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me. […] Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.”

Don’t worry if you missed the video of that interview. You’re probably going to see plenty of replays between now and the end of the Superbowl.

I watched the game–uncharacteristic of me, but hey, I love my town! To me, Sherman sounded angry and childish. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “Well, that’s a shame. That really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.” I went on to say something about being Sherman being a poor role model for kids.

If my reaction had been all that immediately lit up Twitter, it still would have created a Teachable Moment. But of course the Twitterverse was far uglier. Hiding being anonymity, people posted horrible comments comparing Sherman to an “angry monkey” and calling him a “thug.” To my horror, I realized my own distaste was magnified a thousand times by those who saw the issue as one of race rather than simply maturity level.

The very next day, a former colleague whom I respect put a Huffington Post article on her Facebook page.  It went into detail about Sherman’s background, from growing up poor in Compton, CA to graduating from Stanford with 4.0. More powerfully, it challenged those who decried Sherman to think about their own reactions.

I did. I’ve read a lot since then, and watched some interviews. And I’m going to hand the mic over to the Huffington Post on this one:

Sherman suggests being labeled a thug is another way for a segment of the white media to call African-Americans like himself the N-Word. He feels a segment of the media contingent has unfairly labeled him something he’s not.

Is Richard Sherman really a thug?

By definition a thug is a person who engages in violent and/or criminal behavior.


Did Sherman kill someone?

Did Sherman rob, deceive or steal from someone?

Has Sherman served anytime in prison for acts contrary to the law?

I characterize his behavior as a display of passion. Sherman was exhibiting behavior in sports that few African-Americans having the platform are willing to use. He was simply talking trash about an opponent whose game he does not respect.


I agree. And in a later interview, Sherman calmly taught me what I should already have known, if I hadn’t gone solely with my gut reaction in those post-game moments:

It was loud, it was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am. I don’t want to be a villain, because I’m not a villainous person. When I say I’m the best cornerback in football, it’s with a caveat: There isn’t a great defensive backfield in the NFL that doesn’t have a great front seven. Everything begins with pressure up front, and that’s what we get from our pass rushers every Sunday. To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field—don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.

Reading that makes me feel like the childish one. Thanks for the reminder, Richard. I may not be rushing over to the mainland to buy myself a #25 Seahawks jersey like the rest of Seattle, but I’ll be rooting for you, in the big game and in general. 

OK, gonna open it up now. Want to share your own reactions? Talk about the use of the word “thug”? Make a prediction for the Superbowl score? Share your favorite guacamole recipe? I’m listening!

There It Is Again, That Darn Seahawks Pride

The stupid thing is, I don’t even LIKE football. I’ve never been able to understand how any mom or dad could sit and watch their beloved kid getting mashed like that. They must be tougher than me.

And pro sports? Meh. Occasionally the supreme grace of the athletes or the adrenalin of a close game can cause me to forget my cynicism about the whole nasty nexus of money and steroids and over-hyped, under-educated teenagers that forms the base of the pro sports pyramid…but only occasionally.

So how can I be so damn proud of the Seattle Seahawks?

[IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE here for those who know me well enough to be asking  at this point, “Hold up–she’s a complete Carolina Tarheels nut. Where does she get off complaining about the ‘nasty nexus’ of anything sports-related?”

My response: No comment. But it’s the Tarheels–they’re different. If God is not a Tarheel, why’s the sky Carolina Blue? I do see your point. Collegiate basketball fans, like, well, any fans, are not rational beings. Now may I continue?]

As I was saying: I’ve never cared for football, I’ve never cared for pro sports, therefore I’ve REALLY never cared for the NFL. But this weekend’s matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the watchamacallems, the San Francisco Gold Diggers, has me quite excited.

My raised pulse has nothing to do with football. OK, it has a little to do with football. I’d like to eat Marshawn Lynch’s arms for lunch. (Actually just one arm would do fine. For me and about a dozen of my girlfriends. Have you SEEN his arms??)

(orig. image courtesy

(orig. image courtesy


Really, though, I’m just excited for the city. Seattle is not a sports town, historically. It’s not really an anything town, historically, unless you want to go way back to 1919 and the International Workers of the World (only successful General Strike in US history! Go Wobblies!) Yeah, it’s famous for grunge, and expensive coffee, and more recently, public pot-smoking. But those interests leave a lot of folks out in the rain. (Ooh! Seattle weather pun!) Nothing brings together folks from ALL walks of life better than a winning sports team.

That folks-coming-together part? THAT I like.

I love seeing Facebook pics of northwestern friends, far from home, still gamely decked out in Seahawks blue and green.

I love all the media chatter about which city is better, Seattle or San Francisco.

(Orig. image courtesy

(Orig. image courtesy

I love chatting with people in the market about Seattle’s killer defense.

I love reading that Seahawks fans are the loudest in the world.

I love seeing other folks’ eyes light up when I mention Marshawn Lynch’s arms…or the rest of him, for that matter.

So call me a fair-weather fan if you want. When it comes to football, I fully admit that’s true, despite the lack of any fair weather in last weekend’s victory over the Saints.

But when it comes to bringing people together? I’m ALWAYS a fan of that.

How about you? If you’re a fan, is the civic pride aspect of your fanaticism important to you? If you’re not…how DO you put up with the rest of us?

Seattle Seahawks + Guiness Book of World Records = Ridiculous Case of Civic Pride

I am not a pro football fan. True, I’m not quite as bad as some of my island friends who claim not to know what “NFL” stands for, but, in the overall range of not-fan-ness, the only reason I’m not one of those annoying spectators who demand to know “Wait, why’s that guy doing that?” when you take them to a game is that no one’s ever going to take me to a game.

So I should be embarrassed to admit that I’m proud of “my” Seattle Seahawks because they set a world record last month. Well, not them, exactly. Their fans–a.k.a. “The Twelfth Man.” (See, if I were a COMPLETE and TOTAL not-fan, I wouldn’t know what that meant. So maybe there is hope for me, or no hope, depending on how you look at it.) They set a record for NOISE.

Yep, it’s official, folks. 136.6 decibels, breaking the previous record by 1.6  And the previous record holders, the hardy fans of the Galatasaray Soccer Club (that’s in Turkey, in case you were wondering) can suck it try again next year, jolly good luck and all that.

Want to hear what 136.6 decibels sound like?

What’s funny is, hearing this story gave me a rush of civic pride that continues to bubble up anytime anyone mentions the topic. How in the world can this be? Am I such an insecure Northwesterner that world attention of any kind that doesn’t mention “the Battle of Seattle” or the wimpiness of Steve Ballmer automatically pumps me up?

Gotta admit…I was just in New England, and I found myself keeping score: “There’s a Dunkin Donuts. But ha! There’s a Starbucks right across the street. We’re catching ’em! Oops, there’s another Dunkin Donuts…dang.”

Civic pride, anyone? Do you fall victim to it over silly stuff? Or do you save your “I Left My Heart in ________” moments for something more real, like when Boston rallied after the marathon bombing? Or maybe pride is pride and love is love, and it doesn’t even matter why?