Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle Wants Back on the Court, or The Ice

As the winter months drone on and the rain pours unceasingly, one fact remains true—football season is over. Coming off the Seahawks’ win, Seattle is in desperate need of a new outlet for their fanaticism and the National Hockey League (NHL) might grant the fans just that.

The science and study of sports fanaticism is rich, expanding into the fields of psychology, philosophy and sociology. With spring quickly approaching, and a failed attempt to buy the Sacramento Kings still a fresh wound, Seattle fans call for an alternative. Incidentally, the possibility of a Seattle hockey team is growing.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly stated during Super Bowl week that the league has made no official decision on expansion with regard to a hockey team; however, there has been a number of rumors surrounding Seattle as a potential target for the sport.

“I think it’s safe to say we’re very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest generally. Going forward I would expect that, to the extent expansion comes into the picture or relocation is needed, I’m sure the Pacific Northwest is going to get serious consideration,” Daley said in a CBS Sports article.
Junior accounting major Chris Glaser was lukewarm about the idea.

“I think a lot more people care about basketball than hockey. It might be a little different being in the Northwest because we have some transplants from Canada. Especially with the way the Sonics were taken from Seattle,” Glaser said.

Hesitant Seattleites might have to yield to the idea of the NHL, thanks to some unsuccessful dealings with the National Basketball Association (NBA) last spring.

In May, some of Seattle’s wealthiest investors, Steve Ballmer included, approached the Maloof family—owners of the Sacramento Kings since 1999.

With an initial offer of $357 million in April and then a raise to $406 million plus a $115 million relocation fee that would be split among the 29 NBA owners, the decision to buy the Kings was put to a vote. After five months of debating, Sacramento owners dedcided that the team would stay. Commissioner David Stern explained the choice saying, “This wasn’t an anti-Seattle vote, this was a pro-Sacramento vote.”

“People from Sacramento really love their team and I wouldn’t want to take that away from them,” said sophomore Christian Otsuka, who is from California.

Glaser did add that hockey could be beneficial. “I know a lot of people talk about the way they would be excited for a hockey team. It’s still a fun event. The tickets are usually cheaper than other sporting events.”

But, it appears that the art of being a fan goes beyond just “fun events.” Eric Simmons, author of “The Secret Lives of Sports Fans,” defined sports as “a real relationship in your brain. In a very real sense, the sports team becomes a part of you.”

Psychologists understand the experience of a sports spectator as a combination of many visceral reactions. Whether fans are at a game or watching from home, their experience is a result of mirror neuron activation. It is this neural firing that explains fans’ fervent connections to their chosen teams and their success.

In 1976, Professor Robert Cialdini at Arizona State University coined a term to describe the phenomenon of embracing a win as BIRG—Basking in Reflected Glory. Through BIRGing, fans experience a sense of pride for their team’s accomplishments, though they have not physically contributed.

Cialdini compared it to a parent advertising their child’s academic success with a bumper sticker brag. The parent feels some sense of responsibility for their child’s success; they are basking in the glory that their child has received.

No matter the game, Glaser sees sports as a type of “fraternity.” He shares experts’ opinions on the art of fanaticism by describing the experience of a game.

“When you’re in a stadium with all these other fans, you share a common bond. It just makes it all that much more exciting,” Glaser said.

Though we realistically won’t be seeing Isaiah Thomas on a Seattle court anytime soon, Seattle sports fans could embrace the Canadian border and get excited about the potential for a hockey team.

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