In middle and high school, I loved playing sports. I played volleyball, basketball, tennis, soccer and briefly ran cross country. Now, watching sports? Forget about it. It’s like watching someone eat a steak. I’d rather be doing it myself than watching someone else do it. I would only watch sports when it involved food or if there was a lull in the conversation at restaurants. I’ve never understood why people get so emotionally invested in watching sports on TV.
When I was around 12 years old, it felt as if the Seahawks first ever Super Bowl was when they played the Green Bay Packers…or was it the Steelers? I’m pretty sure it was a green team, and people had blocks of cheese on their heads. My mom and brother were at my neighbor’s house. I was more into the greasy Hochstatter special pizza (with every form of meat acceptable to gringos piled on) from Chico’s than I was into the game. That was around the time those snazzy Tostitos “scoops” chips came out, and I may or may not have overdosed on them. We lost that year, but all I kept thinking was, “Well, now at least people know who the Seahawks are. Maybe they’ll finally realize that Washington is also a state. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll also one day realize who the Seattle Mariners are”. One can dream. Fun fact: The Mariners are our baseball team.
In 2014, the Seachickens came back from the dead. All of a sudden, with players like the Stanford-educated Richard Sherman, the team because sexy and well-known. I even liked Sherman’s facebook page. I watched the Super Bowl in my Roxbury apartment all by myself. It was snowing and as I was curled up in my ridiculously comfortable blue blanket, I wondered if I had any Seahawk fan friends in Boston. Just like myself, my friends don’t care too much about watching sports. As I chomped on my Digiorno supreme pizza, the Seachickens crushed the Broncos. The score was something like 43-0. It was a pretty uneventful game, but I was proud of “my” team. Or was I a Patriot’s fan now since I lived in Boston? I googled “seahawks gear” and contemplated ordering a beanie and shirt for the first time. Those green and blue colors looked better than ever. That’s as far as my fandom came.
Then came the Super Bowl: Nicaragua edition. About two weeks ago, someone let me know that the Seahawks were playing the Patriots and I felt happy and confused. I told myself I’d be happy if either one won, since I was basically from both of their states. On that Sunday I skyped Danielle, my dear friend and Pats fan, and she asked “Do you have netflix? How are you going to watch the game?”. I asked her to text me the results, since I didn’t think the game would be playing here. That night, I laid on my couch and decided to flip to ESPN just in case, and the game was most definitely on. The score was 0-0. The Latino commentators were all slim and dressed up in suits and ties, which I thought was an interesting contrast to the image I have of American commentators of being overweight, white old men in track suits with their headsets strapped on. I also noticed that the Latino commentators focused more on how the players were probably feeling and on their expressions rather than on the plays and implications of the game. I related more to the Latin American commentary, especially since I still haven’t cared to understand the rules and lingo of the game. All I knew that a touchdown is good, a penalty is bad, and that I really wanted nachos, but that would have required taking off my pajamas and walking 5 minutes down the street. I was feeling lazy and American, so I made the most American food I had on hand: pancakes with the last scrapings of my precious peanut butter and trader joe’s nutella that the wonderful Divya brought me.
Aside from the lack of readily accessible junk food and buffoonery that goes on, watching the Super Bowl in Nicaragua is also different because the commercials are horrible. They don’t even make an effort to make them slightly more entertaining, and understandably so. Also, I’m probably just bitter because they had the audacity to play a Taco Bell commercial, even though they know that I’d have to trek it all the way to Costa Rica to get it. What was wrong with me? I wanted Taco Bell, and I was watching football. Maybe, just maybe, I missed home.
My host sister laughed at me because I ended up being so into the game. Since I didn’t have a live facebook feed to entertain me with thoughts on the game from my non-football fan friends, I texted Raquel my feelings on how I was not looking forward to Katy Perry’s performance. I also thought Lenny Kravitz had retired, and pouted at the lack of Beyoncé happening. Then, the glorious dancing sharks came on. Game changer. That just mentally prepared me for the wonderful Missy Elliot, who arose from the dead. We all understand why she was hiding. One day, she thought, she would have to steal the show from Katy Perry and remind America’s youth that Ms. Perry could never pull off dancing in a trash bag the way Missy could.
By the end of the second half, my heart was racing to see who would win. Our family dog, Muchachito, the loving, calm, shaggy dog whose eyes I rarely see, just looked up at me, confused, as if he were saying “Porque diablos estas mirando football Americano, Charleen? Normalmente, te vale verga. Deberías de estar acariciándome”. It was no Broncos barbeque, that’s for sure. I can’t believe the Seahawks ended up fighting the Pats at the end. Raquel says that’s why we lost. Oh, silly boys and your testosterone. And they say women are too emotional. Right…
That night, I had an epiphany. Aside from being confused as to why I enjoyed each time the camera panned to Tom Brady, I actually cared about the Seahawks losing. Therefore, I am a Seahawks fan. There’s a saying that says that Seahawks fans are known as “the twelfth man” because they are so loud and encouraging to their team. That night, in Nicaragua, although I watched the Super Bowl alone for the second time, I realized that in my own way, I was the Seachickens’ Twelfth Woman.