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Seahawks' bandwagon a one-way ticket | Reporter's Notebook
For most sports fans there are few things more irksome than bandwagon jumpers.
Whether it is hopping on with the shiniest college football team from half a country away, or pledging allegiance to a professional team because of a superstar player or enticing color scheme, marketing and broadcasting have created a sports world where fandom is fluid.
And when it comes to our Seahawks, one of the trendy picks to make a run to Super Bowl XLVII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and the team that has more than any other come to define the collective sports passion in Seattle, the bandwagon's capacity is being pushed to its limits.
From the casual fan getting in the spirit a little earlier than usual to the die-hard who hasn't taken a day off from following the Hawks since the season ended so miserably in the Georgia Dome in January, the excitement toward the franchise has been palpable.
But be warned, newcomers, true fans know the ticket onto the Seahawks' express is good for a one-time only use. Once you become part of the 12th Man, leaving means forever.
Of course, it is impossible to tell another individual how they feel about a team.
Some fans believe the only mission of those in the stands is to unabashedly cheer at every turn, not taking into account the machinations and behind-the-scenes dealings that help shape the on-field product. Others come from the opposite side of the spectrum, viewing themselves as a realtime mirror for the organization to view itself and its shortcomings (usually yelling something like, "I paid for my seat, I can say whatever I want!").
But regardless of how one views the place of the fan within the framework of the game, one thing is not up for debate: at one point, every fan was new.
Not all of us are handed fandom as a birthright from an obsessed loved one, destining us for a lifetime of emotional peaks and valleys as our stomachs turn on last-second field goals and critical red zone stops. Most people who come to enjoy a sport or a specific team or individual are introduced to them later, and make a conscious decision to become a fan.
But once that decision is made, it cannot be so easily undone.
More times than I can remember during the spring and summer, I have found myself transfixed on the television as the Mariners frittered away another lead, or were unable to muster offensive output at a decisive point in the game. But regardless of the knowledge they are not a contender for the playoffs and never were in 2013, the emotions come out. Anger when they play poorly, frustration when things break bad, excitement and hope during even the most muted of winning streaks.
But once upon a time, I was nothing more than a bandwagon fan.
In the summer of 1995, it was the Atlanta Braves who tugged my heartstrings come October. I followed my former hometown team as much as I could from the Pacific Northwest, even as I watched the Mariners come into their own with a group we now know included no fewer than two future Hall of Famers and a defining season for the franchise.
It was also the season that made my Mariners' fandom forever.
The general rule is a simple one for me when it comes to bandwagon fans: you can only get as excited during the good times as you do upset during the bad.
That's why those of us who have been disappointed for as long as we can remember can't wait for 2013 to begin.