I hate losing. I once sat in a 1991 Toyota Previa in the Factoria Square parking lot and bawled for an hour because I had pitched poorly in a Little League game and had cost my team a victory. My family went inside to eat dinner and I stayed in the van, refusing to eat, refusing to move. I don’t do well with defeat. I never have. Even now, there is little that can be done to assuage me when my team so much as drops a rec basketball game. I will either a) sit in grim silence for an entire car ride home, or b) verbally break down every single thing that went wrong on our failed quest for triumph. My friends deserve a lot of credit for dealing with that version of me that, to this day, struggles to cope with losing.
I guess in many ways it’s ironic that I am a Seattle sports fans — I don’t know how to lose, and seemingly all my teams do is just that. My whole life, I’ve encountered failure from these entities I hold so dear to me, and yet I’ve never learned how to accept the bitter taste of defeat. I sat through an entire childhood of Seahawks futility, labored through thousands (literally, thousands) of Mariner losses, had seats in the upper level for every home game of the only 0-12 season in University of Washington football history, then paid witness to the ultimate heartbreak when the Sonics were taken from us and moved to Oklahoma City.
When I started this website and began writing in a public forum, I didn’t really know what would happen next. On the day I embarked upon this journey — November 12th, 2008, officially — Seattle was in a rut. We were only a couple months removed from losing the Sonics, in the midst of that fateful 0-12 Husky football campaign, had just suffered through a 100-loss Mariners season, and were on the verge of watching the Seahawks put together a miserable 4-12 finish. Things were worse than usual and I felt compelled to share my emotions. For me, it was the only way to cope with, at that time, 24 years of misery come to a head.
Over the course of four-and-a-half years, I’ve witnessed firsthand what bonding over tragedy truly looks like. We tend to think of the loss of human life as one of the few instances where the term “tragedy” applies. On a much smaller (and undoubtedly, less important) scale, however, losing a game, a playoff berth, or a team is viewed as a tragedy in the microcosmic world of your typical sports fan. Knowing that, Seattle sports fans must be some of the most grief-stricken people in the history of organized athletics. We should be miserable. At all times. And occasionally we do get that way. But for all the shit we go through so frequently, there is this perpetual hope existing amongst all of us that bears mentioning. It is not at all insignificant in its existence.
I remember the day the Sonics left town back in 2008. I didn’t mourn that day, or anytime shortly thereafter. It took me until the opening day of the ’08-’09 season to realize that we weren’t getting our team back anytime soon. Up to that point, I had refused to accept the inevitable. I just could not do it. That might make me the least credible person in the world when it comes to saying what I’m about to say, but screw it, I’ll say it anyway.
I may be naive. I may be on an island. I may be the only one who still believes after the events of Monday afternoon that Seattle is destined to get its NBA team back. But I truly have faith that this good thing, this return, is going to happen. I have no sound logic behind my faith, because really, that’s not what faith is. Faith is believing in something not knowing if that thing actually exists. Faith is blind and sometimes stupid and often irrational and possibly inane. But faith is necessary. Faith exists to give us hope and reason to get up each morning. Faith exists to make us smile even though we’re sad, to persevere when times are tough. I have faith that, even though the NBA has told us we won’t get someone else’s basketball team on this day, we will still get our Sonics back.
On this day, things kind of suck. We’re hurting, and no one wants to hurt. We’ve been down this road before, this path to what appears to be yet another tragic ending. All along, though, we’ve never given up. This city and its fans have pulled together time and time again for reasons unknown. We’ve bonded in moments of adversity on countless occasions and we’ve done so with little more than faith holding us together. I don’t really know what it means to be truly exceptional, but I like to think that Seattle sports fans are exactly that. We don’t settle for the tragedy of losing. We fall, and then we rise again. Every single time. So why should this time be any different?
If the NBA spurns us — if the NBA spurns Seattle and Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer and all the good people who have made this new arena we’re going to build a reality — it will be a blow to our collective psyche that I don’t want to try to process right now. It appears today that the NBA may be one step closer to disappointing us, but I like to think there’s something else going on, something good, that maybe we don’t know about yet.
I have this unreasonable amount of hope for us. I know that. I may be foolish for that. Whatever. When you’ve been through as much crap as we have, there really is no other way to approach obstacles as they present themselves.
I believe in Seattle. I believe in Seattle’s sports fans. We are strong individually and even stronger together. We’re destined for good, I just know it.
So I leave you with this clip. As dumb as it is, it makes sense on this day. Because nothing is over until we say it is.