The Huskies and The 12th Man


That it should come to this.  Unbelievable.  Washington playing in CenturyLink Field.

Well, I’ll come right out and say it: Seahawks fans are unprincipled and disgusting, and at the heart of the problem is CenturyLink Field.

For example, at the north end-zone bleacher-seat area, there is the infamous Hawks’ Nest that looks down on the field as well as field-level suites and undercover seating equal to 70 percent of the 67,000 fixed seats.  For those who do not yet know, the Hawks’ Nest is the NFL’s dedicated insane asylum, a psychiatrist’s candy store, specifically designed for the most undisciplined, immature fans – unschooled hooligans, the NFL’s equivalent of Liverpool soccer fans.

Oh, yes!  That bad!

Exacerbating the problem, the Hawks’ Nest has the lowest-priced seating at CenturyLink Field, enabling attendance of rabble who paint themselves garish blue and green, and who (although probably on limited budgets) swill beer by the bucket while screaming obscenities at anyone who will…well, anyone.

Sordid, disgusting people.

Ghastly, repulsive and nauseating.  The bane of the NFL.

People like Mark Knight and Jeff Taylor.

Oh, yes!  That bad!

But it wasn’t intended to be this way.  CenturyLink Field, nee Qwest Field, was meant for much better things.

For example, CenturyLink Field was initially designed for intimacy but that kind thought was immediately trampled underfoot, and intimacy replaced by more common and, dare I say, abusive behavior.  What was intended for the display of sportsmanship is now being used to display the basest of public manners.  On the north side of the stadium, it’s the insane asylum.  Meanwhile, the south end zone is bordered by field-level suites that naturally lend themselves to conduct unbecoming of a professional athlete: those most unsportsmanlike touchdown celebrations.

Making matters worse, the Hawks Nest seats and aisles are constructed of metal, adept at transmitting great volumes of sound when consistently stomped upon by inebriated, overweight patrons.  During Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run last year, crowd behavior registered at a 1 or 2 magnitude earthquake on a nearby seismometer.  As shown on the graph below, aftershocks were then registered with the successful PAT and the stadium replay.  But, I ask you, is such unbridled enthusiasm what our children should witness?

Add to this already unseeming behavior the non-stop vocalizing at high decibel levels, and what impact might this continual display of ungracious conduct have?

For starters, consider that in 2005, in a game against the Seahawks, the visiting, inveterate New York Giants, senior among NFL teams, committed 11 false starts.  Eleven.  Was the Hawks’ Nest enough to cause that?  One would hope, yes, but unfortunately the Hawks’ Nest had considerable help.

In a spatial domain, white noise is an auto correlation which can be represented by a delta function over the relevant space dimensions.  Everyone knows that, of course.  Well, gentle reader, if you can believe this, as morbid as it seems, I’m told CenturyLink Field was actually designed with this in mind, and I can only ask: is there no sense of fairness remaining on earth?

Apparently, owner Paul Allen grew up during the Jim Owens era seeped in the conviction that football wasn’t football if players were dry, and the happiest fans were those prone to unmitigated, prolonged, excited shouting, cheering and screaming – like what occurred when, late in the game, one Donald McKeta quite unexpectedly ran for a touchdown against Oregon, placing Mr. Owens in yet another Rose Bowl.  Apparently Mr. Allen never forgot the excitement of that moment.

But it gets even worse.  Add to the above the CenturyLink Field’s cantilever roofs, each 760-feet long (the length of three 747s parked end-to-end).  The roofs hang over the upper decks of each sideline ostensibly for the purpose of keeping fans dry but, it seems, once again this straight-forward purpose has been thwarted.  The cantilevered roofs catch, amplify and throw back the crowd noise like one of those massive Makaha waves in Hawai’i, making it impossible to hear signals or anything else.  CenturyLink Field white noise.  Needless to say, the riff-raff attending Seahawks games take complete advantage of this inadvertent design flaw, to the consternation of worthy opponents.

In fact, when the Giants had 11 false starts, the noise was so loud that after the game, the Giants’ general manager, Mr. Ernest Accorsi, demanded an NFL investigation.  A veritable Sherlock Holmes, he suspected the Seahawks were piping in artificial crowd noise over public address system loudspeakers during this game.

Ahah! responded the NFL.

Indeed, the NFL investigated but could find no evidence of artificial crowd noise.  Granted, the Hawks’ Nest bunch wasn’t Planet Hollywood’s “V” Theater stage band but, still, the NFL determined, those boys in the Nest could be loud.  Regardless, the NFL wasn’t completely convinced.

Acting further on the 2005 complaint, the NFL intended to monitor two 2006 Seahawks home games for artificial crowd noise.  Alas, however, the word got out and, predictably, the rapacious Saracen hordes in green and blue paint responded by becoming even more boisterous, even louder, an act theretofore unimaginable, and the NFL was unable to reach a conclusion, not being able to hear a damned thing.  But, yet once again, we find primitive behavior on the part of Seahawk fans.

This behavior began to factor into opposing teams’ game plans.  In preparation for the 2005-2006 NFC Championship Game, for example, the Carolina Panthers practiced with the recorded sounds of jet engines in the background.

Jet engines.

Good heavens.

But even that didn’t do it.  Fox Sports measured actual crowd noise at 137 db (audio pain begins at 125 db, and short-term exposure at that level can end in permanent hearing loss) during Seattle’s 34–14 win.

To make matters worse, since 2005, the Seahawks have tracked the number of false starts committed by visiting teams and – would you believe it? – display the statistic on a scoreboard to further incite the crowd.  Unforgivable.

But sometimes opponents unwittingly also incite unruly crowd behavior.

For example, in 2008, prior to a Seahawks game, Redskins running back Mike Sellers stated, “That place had to be miked-up because the last time we played there, it was ridiculous.  We couldn’t hear ourselves talk.  For a stadium that small, it can’t be that loud.”

“…a stadium that small…”  Ohhhhhh no no no no….

Wrong thing to say, Mr. Sellers.

Effectively calling-out the 12th man.

Football does indeed require a foot but not in one’s mouth.  The Seahawk fan reaction at the Redskins game was predictable.  And, of course, using this unfair advantage, the Seahawks again won.

The whole situation – the lack-of-decorum and total absence of sportsmanship – has gotten entirely out-of-hand.  And to think that the Washington Huskies must play in that sullied venue next fall…

Ummm, but now that I consider it, that’s not a terribly bad idea, actually.