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Why Supporting the Seahawks Out of Solidarity is Wrong

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Seattle Seahawks Are The Closest NFL Team to Portland in Consideration to "Northwestern Solidarity" Photo Credit: Philip Robertson (Image Cropped)

Know a lot of Seattleites who root for the Trail Blazers out of “Northwest solidarity?” 

Me either. And yet as the Seahawks made their Super Bowl run last season and as they jumped all over Green Bay last week in the NFL season-opener, you heard many Portlanders and Oregonians rooting hard for Seattle out of “Northwest solidarity.” 

That sentiment is wrong on so many levels.

Half the fun of cheering for a team is cheering against your rival. And even if Seattle is too smug to acknowledge it, Seattle is supposed to be Portland’s rival city—a healthy hatred that once fed off the Supersonics playing the Trail Blazers in the NBA before the Sonics skedaddled to Oklahoma City.

It’s a rivalry that happily still draws venom from the Western Hockey League battles between the WInterhawks and Thunderbirds; the Major League Soccer intensity between the Sounders and Timbers; and of course whenever Oregon State University or the University of Oregon plays the University of Washington.

Perpetual little brother status

But wait, you say, Portland doesn’t have an NFL team so why not root for the nearest team? Because that attitude relegates Portland to perpetual little-brother status when it comes to the prospect of adding a second major-league sports franchise—and ending Portland’s dubious distinction as the largest market with just one major-league franchise.

No, nobody is saying an NFL franchise will ever come to Portland. But look what Seattleites did after the Sonics broke fans’ hearts by moving to Oklahoma City. Instead of starting to follow the Trail Blazers simply because they are the nearest-available franchise, Seattle has pursued existing NBA franchises or expansion opportunities like a Ponzi salesman chasing a trustafarian.

Now contrast that mindset with Portland’s more demure self-satisfaction of following whatever major-league franchise happens to be nearby. Just look at the effects of the two cities’ different behaviors. 

Isn’t it fascinating that in recent months, once-regular buzz of an NHL franchise in the Northwest has shifted from Portland to Seattle despite the fact that Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen’s Moda Center is built to accommodate an NHL team and Seattle doesn’t even have an NHL arena.

Supporting the Seahawks

But apparently that’s OK for Portlanders because we could have our own “Northwest team” in Seattle just three hours away up Interstate 5. After all, isn’t that our rationale for supporting the Seahawks or for that matter, the Mariners all these years instead of aggressively trying to get a second major league franchise in Portland.

Look, if you want to root for the Seahawks this weekend against San Diego because you admire Richard Sherman’s brashness or Russell Wilson’s poise, go for it. Just realize that every dollar you spend on Seahawks tickets or merchandise—and every quote you give TV reporters in Portland bars showing Seahawks games – painfully demonstrates to the rest of the sporting world that Portland is content to be a second-rate sports city incapable and/or unwilling to stand on its own.

Instead, we project to all the major sports leagues that we’re believers in something called “Northwest solidarity.” 

And that sound you’re hearing in response is Seattlelites laughing at us bumpkins while the NHL and MLB ignore Portland completely. 

A native Oregonian, Hank Stern had a 24-year career in journalism, working for more than a decade as a reporter with The Associated Press in Oregon, New Jersey and Washington, DC. He worked seven years for The Oregonian as a reporter in east Multnomah County, Washington County and Portland’s City Hall. In 2005, he became Willamette Week’s managing news editor and worked there until 2011.


Photo Credit: PhilipRobertson via Compfight cc (image cropped)


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