The view from City Hall as Seahawks fans throng the parade route.
  • Goldy | The Stranger
  • The view from City Hall as Seahawks fans throng the parade route.

People who aren't into sports might find the massive crowds at today's Seahawks Super Bowl victory parade to be kinda silly. I mean, it's just a game for chrisakes. A bunch of millionaires working for billionaires, tossing a ball around and knocking each other down. Objectively, all this civic pride would appear to be misplaced, especially considering that this 12th Man thing is mostly bullshit—few if any of the fans flooding Seattle's streets today had anything to do with the Seahawks' victory.

But that's an awfully cynical view of professional sports that ignores our basic tribal instincts, and as such underestimates the beneficial and indeed, civilizing impact of sports fandom. Professional football and other sports don't just serve as a metaphor for war, they serve as a bloodless proxy. Through the Seahawks and the Broncos their respective fans get to manifest all of the inflamed passions of the Hutus and the Tutsis, but without the genocide. Where city-states once settled their disputes on the field of combat, they now compete on the field of play. It is a harmless appeal to our basest instincts that brings our city together against the other, without massacring the other in the process.

In Sunday's Super Bowl, Seattle utterly destroyed Denver, and yet the city of Denver remains unscathed. Seven hundred thousand Seahawk fans amassed in downtown Seattle today—about the size of the Allied forces at the Battle of the Bulge—but not a single casualty was inflicted on either side. Indeed, as physically brutal as the sport of football is, even among the players in Sunday's game, not a single fatality was suffered (unless you count the inevitable deaths from chronic traumatic encephalopathy some decades hence).

So yeah. It's silly. But embrace it. Because it's a helluva lot better than actual war.