“How cool would it be if, 30 years from now, we’re sitting with our kids and grandkids and telling them about how we did something extraordinary?”
Seattle Seahawks Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner
This summer when my interview with Rachel Belle from The Ron and Don Show aired on KIRO Radio, both hosts commented that they didn’t think the Seattle Freeze existed anymore. They felt that ever since the 12th Man phenomenon swept through our great city, the Freeze was history. Rachel disagreed, the story aired and it became further thought for discussion.
Two weeks ago I received an email from someone in response to the Issaquah Reporter article about my blog which said: “Thank you so much for talking about the ‘Seattle Freeze.’ I moved here from the (East Coast) many years ago and have had one heck of a time making friends here…I’ve never quite been able to figure out the people here – polite, but just not all that friendly.”
Sorry, Ron. Sorry, Don. I’m grieved to say that The Seattle Freeze did not disappear with the firestorm of the 12th Man and pockets of Puget Sound remain mighty chilly.
But I do believe that the collective energy and enthusiasm of the Seattle Seahawks 12th Man can act as a catalyst to ignite our city and spread a chain reaction of connection and community. Here’s how:
The City is Buzzing
Like many of you this last Sunday, I devoured the lead story and special The Defenders section of the Seattle Times as the beginning of my pre-game ramp-up to this Thursday’s Seahawk season opener with Green Bay. Fan fever is climbing. The city is buzzing. Restaurant and bar reservations are booking. Social media is chiming. Game day is approaching.
But I think that our city’s 12th Man fervor can be so much more than just rooting for our gladiators. I think we could use it as a springboard to once and for all start down a concerted, intentional path to dismantle the Seattle Freeze. I mean, if our Hawks can grind the Broncos into glue, couldn’t we ignite a bonfire that could warm up an entire city?
Host a 12th Man Party
We all have 16 opportunities in the next 4 months to invite a neighbor or neighbors over for a 12th Man Party. Pre-game. Game. Post-Game. Just get your Game On!
Game On at Our House!
To show his #GoHawks pride and to better savor each game, my husband just bought a new 60” flat screen and as soon as our contractors re-floor and re-paint our family room to recover from the corroded intake valve explosion that happened in August (don’t get me started) we’ll be having some neighborhood 12th man parties – bank on it.
Don’t let this opportunity get away. This Seahawks season could prove to be a chance of a lifetime on so many levels. Get on the phone, knock on the door, send out an email, circulate a flyer. PICK even just ONE game and make a neighborhood event out of. The flag is flying. Join the party and bring/invite someone new to the party.
This may be the best chance, the best momentum we’ve had in a decade to bring neighborhoods together. Being a 12th Man Fan is the ultimate affinity club in our city that has a zero cost for entry. All it’ll take is just an invite.
Does the thought of inviting your neighbors over to watch the Hawks make you anxious? It shouldn’t:
The city – your neighbors – are ready to celebrate
Last Sunday, Seattle Times Staff Reporter Jack Broom’s page one Great Expectations season preview cited a Times online poll that showed that the “average level of (fan) confidence (that the Seahawks will make it back to the Super Bowl) was a 7.9” on a scale of 0 to 10. That’s pretty huge, considering the odds. Also, “99 percent of season-ticket holders renewed, a franchise record. 31,000 reservations just to see a Seahawks practice were snapped up in 45 minutes.”
The city is ready to cheer on their heroes and, chances are, that includes several of your neighbors. Are you anxious about inviting neighbors – that you don’t know very well – into your home for a 3-hour party? Sure, I could see that. But who says it has to be a full 3-hour party?
How about a 1-hour pre-game tailgate party in your driveway?
How about having a half-time party?
No, seriously. I’ve done the second bullet point. As my husband works in the gaming industry, from Black Friday to 60-days past Christmas our social calendar gets seriously squeezed. Having people over is a challenge because of his work schedule. So, when our brilliant boys in blue blasted their way to the Super Bowl, we had little time or margin to plan a party.
Not wanting to miss out on the historic event, I sent out an email to my surrounding neighbors three days before the game that said ‘Halftime Hoorah!’ I said ‘Let’s head to the cul-de-sac for a 15-minute half-time “Super Bowl Party” together.’ I thought it was a great way to have a party and NO ONE had to clean their house! BYO and come out for a collective WOOT!
Everyone, who was home for the game, came. One neighbor brought cookies. Another brought a half rack. A third brought some sparklers. Mr. L wore his Bronco’s shirt – oh Mr. L! (That’s a whole different blog post. He’s a Packers fan.) Anyway, we all had a blast!
Keep it simple. You don’t have to bust out all Martha Stewart on food choices or decorations or location. Pop a few cold ones and open a bag of Doritos, gather in your driveway or garage – the 12th Man will bring the energy and do the rest. It’s about the game. It’s about connection.
My 12th Man Game Day Party Challenge!
Referencing Wagner’s quote (above), how extraordinary would it be if 30 years from now, when we’re sitting with our kids and grandkids, we tell them about how the Seahawks 12th Man did something extraordinary, did so much more than cheer on their team. We tell them how they brought the city together by getting to know their neighbors over a game and a beer; they began helping each other out when there was a need; they began making city and suburban blocks alike safer for the everyone’s children; they began volunteering together and working together to make their communities stronger.
How cool would it be if, 30 years from now, our kids and grandkids had neighbors from out-of-state that had never heard of the term The Seattle Freeze?
Take a risk. Host a 12th Man Game Day Party this season and invite at least one neighbor that you don’t know very well. And do it during the first half of season. Maybe you’ll be surprised – in this sparkling land that has a chronic lack of neighborly reciprocity – and be invited to a 12th Man Party during the second half of the season. If the first ask doesn’t work, ask again. Set a goal.
Seattle Times Sports Columnist Jerry Brewer said, “There are dozens of little things that could get in the way (of returning to the Super Bowl) … Jealousy. Selfishness. Injuries. Bad chemistry. Lack of leadership. Complacency.”
Hmmm… This could easily be a list for us non-players as well. Let’s not let complacency stop us. The opportunity is now. Put the date on the calendar. Start a chain reaction in your neighborhood.
And, as always, send your celebration photos and stories to Eat Play Thaw so we can all celebrate together.
‘Cause the 12th Man is back in the house baby! Let’s go!