As much as we’d all like to pretend we’re the best fans in the sports universe, we’re not. There are too many of us who let emotion get in the way of logic. We have a tendency to run to Facebook and Twitter and put our teams on blast with every move they make. We can’t discern good from bad, positive from negative. We lack knowledge. And it’s evident on a daily basis.
Matt Hasselbeck and Lofa Tatupu are just two of the latest examples of our little problem.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Both Hasselbeck and Tatupu are great guys. On and off the field, they’ve represented Seattle the way we, as fans, want our hometown represented. Likewise, they’ve been solid employees on the job, taking the Seahawks to a Super Bowl during the magical 2005 season.
But professional sports is a business. A talent-oriented business, at that. And we all had to understand that there would come a day when each of these players’ tenures with the organization and the city came to an end.
This past week, that realization came to fruition. Hasselbeck inked a contract with the Tennessee Titans after the Seahawks more or less chose not to re-sign him. Tatupu was cut on Sunday after he declined to take a pay cut. Over the course of five days, a pair of franchise cornerstones were sent packing. It was slightly jarring, to say the least.
That said, the fan reaction to each of these transactions was just as startling as the moves themselves. Local diehards took to the internet and lambasted the Seahawks for parting ways with two players who, let’s face it, have been little more than average over the past couple seasons. I don’t need to quote the numbers for you. The stats are out there. Feel free to examine them at your leisure. They’re nothing spectacular and they speak volumes about the performances of Hasselbeck and Tatupu, alike.
Don’t get me wrong. I love both these guys and look forward to witnessing their respective inductions into the team’s Ring of Honor. But the Matt Hasselbeck and Lofa Tatupu of 2009 and 2010 were not the Matt Hasselbeck and Lofa Tatupu of, say, 2005. And therein lies the problem.
Fans in this town have grown accustomed to falling in love with mediocrity. Both in the teams we pay homage to and the players themselves. It doesn’t take much to win us over. A .500 season, a charitable foundation, a Twitter account…that’s really all you need to endear yourself to the localites. We’re easily placated. We settle.
There’s a prevalent doctrine in the sports media landscape that, while you strive to reach the balanced individual who “gets it,” you often end up catering to the emotionally imbalanced fanatic that overreacts to seemingly everything. In a perfect world, we’d all be reasonable people. In the sports world, which is far from perfect, a significant plurality (if not the majority) is as far from reasonable as can be. And while certain cities in America are hailed as being more sports savvy than others — St. Louis, for one, comes to mind — for all our educated souls here in the Greater Seattle area, there seems to be an overwhelming lack of understanding when it comes to athletics.
We boast, we blast, we bluster, and as a result, we fail. Our teams don’t win the way we’d like them to. Our players don’t perform the way we’d hope. And yet it takes progress — I’m sorry, but moving on without Hasselbeck and Tatupu is, indeed, progress — for us to get truly riled up.
We have a problem. We need to get smarter. We need to get our brains leveled out. We need to react to things that demand reaction — the loss of an entire basketball franchise, perhaps — and do our best to comprehend the basics of the business.
We need to demand more of ourselves if we ever want to be a true major league city. We’re better than this. Let’s rise, Seattle, and become the fans we know we can be.