Superstitious? Heck, yeah. Hawks fans have their rituals
Their methods might look strange, but many Seahawk fans are doing all they can this season to eat, drink and dress in a way that works like a championship charm.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks fans: Do you shave your head every weekend, like Lorin “Big Lo” Sandretzky, of Burien?
Do you wear the same earrings, day and night, for months, like Shelley Anderson, of Lake Stevens?
And when you’re watching the Seahawks at home, and the other team has the ball, do you simply get up and leave the room, to keep them from scoring, like Eva Froemke, of Ritzville?
No? Neither do we. But maybe we should.
While Sandretzky, Anderson and Froemke have been doing their thing for the past few months, the Seahawks have marched to a 12-3 record — tied for best in the NFL — and are in the driver’s seat to win their division.
But last Sunday’s home loss to Arizona indicates the Hawks could use another burst of good vibrations, timely mojo or just plain luck from their fans.
Skeptics might see little connection between sports fans’ quirky habits and their teams’ success, but don’t tell that to Sandretzky.
He’s been going to Seahawks games 28 years, but only this year went to the shaved-head look.
“When you do something and your team’s winning, you keep doing it,” Sandretzky said.
As Sunday’s regular-season finale against St. Louis approaches, legions of Seahawks fans will be eating their special foods, drinking their special drinks, wearing their special attire — some even timing moments of romantic intimacy.
No logic, no problem
Sound crazy? Not to Eric Hamerman.
“They’re doing what they can to help the team,” said Hamerman, an assistant marketing professor at Tulane University.
Hamerman and Columbia University Business professor Gita Johar last spring published a paper on “conditioned superstitions.”
Those are the beliefs that give sports fans the sense that something they do will help their favorite team’s chances — even though there may be no apparent, logical connection.
“If I really want to control the outcome and I don’t feel like I can, in any sort of rational way, then I’m more likely to reach for an irrational way,” Hamerman said.
And if that irrational way “works,” it can become an instant habit, cemented in place by each subsequent success.
Even a setback — such as the Arizona loss — won’t necessarily prompt fans to change what they consider a lucky habit. “If it doesn’t work every time, they still might think it improves their chances,” Hamerman said.
And it doesn’t matter if the behavior might seem silly to others, he said, picking up the tagline from a popular Bud Light commercial: “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”
A winning diet
If the football gods are seeking a certain behavior from Seahawks fans, it’s hard to tell what that is.
Like, what’s their position on alcohol?
Sandy Snider, of Tacoma, says the Seahawks do better when she has a Bloody Mary before the game, either at a tailgate party outside CenturyLink Field or at home in front of the TV.
But Eddie Perdomo, of Monroe, says he helps the Hawks by abstaining from alcohol during football season. At one point last year, he allowed himself just a single shot, and the Seahawks lost their next game.
And what are fans supposed to eat?
It’s got to be hot dogs for Jeff Mayhew, of Seattle, and his wife. They’ve had hot dogs before just about every game for the last couple of years. But when they flew to Atlanta for a playoff game in January, they were unable to find a hot-dog vendor outside the Georgia Dome. And the Seahawks lost, 30-28.
But wait a minute. Veronica Santiago, also from Seattle, says she and her husband used to eat hot dogs before every game but switched to tacos at a game against Arizona last December.
And they must have been some damn fine tacos, judging from the “results” on the field: Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0.
Seahawks fans wear all manner of “lucky” apparel, from furry boots to blue-and-green underwear to replica jerseys from players who’ve been gone from the team for decades.
A peek into the stands at CenturyLink Field reveals that “12th Man” jerseys and those for current Seahawks players are the go-to garments.
Some fans go home and wash their jerseys, so they’ll be spotless for the next encounter. But others wear the same jersey all season without laundering it, to avoid rinsing away its precious powers.
And each group can claim — this year, anyway — that what they’re doing is working.
Anderson, the Lake Stevens woman wearing Seahawks hoop earrings around the clock, has some interesting evidence of their power:
A couple of weeks ago, one fell out and she was unable to find it. And while it was missing, the Seahawks lost to the 49ers, 19-17.
But a few days later, she found it, in time to watch the Seahawks’ 23-0 victory over the New York Giants.
Jimbo “Cowbell Dude” Sabado, of Shoreline, has noticed that the Seahawks do better when he and his fianceé start the day with, uh, let’s say a tender moment — and he says he’s heard something similar from other fans.
His nickname comes from bringing his cowbell to the game, which stadium workers now prohibit. But the name has stuck.
Not all of the Seahawks fans’ unusual practices, rituals and traditions are based on superstition.
Take that of Froemke’s husband, Tim, as an example.
Starting with the Seahawks’ victory at the NFC Championship Game in 2005, he has had his upper body painted green before certain home games to portray the Seahulk.
During the game, he urges fans around him to make as much noise as possible, especially when the visiting team is trying to call a play.
And by now, the whole NFL-watching world knows that the power of the “12th Man” to rattle opponents at CenturyLink Field isn’t superstition. It’s fact.
Seahawks fans might be paying more attention to their habits this season because they’re working so well.
But fans and superstitions have always gone hand in glove, said Mark Tye Turner, who recounts his own history as a Seahawks fan in his 2009 book, “Notes from a 12 Man.”
Turner, a fan since the team’s 1976 debut, said the most painful games are the close losses.
“They allow you to think you had some control over the situation,” he wrote. “If only you had sat in a different chair or wore a different shirt, the outcome would have been more favorable.
“It’s ridiculous,” he wrote, “but sports fandom rarely operates logically.”
Jack Broom: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-2222