Seahawks fever turned this region into a family

Winning isn’t everything. But it is exhilarating.

The Seahawks’ monumental triumph in Sunday’s Super Bowl satisfied something deep in the region’s soul. Today’s victory parade in Seattle will demonstrate how satisfying and how deep.

Some credit for the win rightly goes to the 12th Man, the hard-core fans who trigger earthquakes with their screams at Century Link Field and the wish-we-were-there TV viewers. But the thrill was felt far and wide, before the game and after. As the Seahawks demolished one rival after another and got within sight of the national championship, Seahawks mania saturated the region.

By last week, half the Puget Sound population seemed arrayed in blue and green. Malls, supermarkets and big box stores swarmed with shoppers in Seahawks jerseys and T-shirts, sometimes fist-bumping each other in the aisles. The fever wasn’t merely infectious; it was pandemic.

During the game, the region’s normally crowded highways seemed almost empty – mute proof that hundreds of thousands were riveted to their screens. Then the victory: People wept with joy, strangers hugged each other, and illegal fireworks boomed through neighborhoods from Everett to Olympia. You’d think it was another V-E Day.

What to make of all this?

Even the most casual football fans – people who prefer baseball, basketball, you name it – got swept up in the push for ultimate victory. Puget Sounders hadn’t seen a national championship in a major league since 1979, when the now-departed Sonics won basketball’s top trophy.

Something about the fortunes of our teams seeps into our psyches. All those mediocre seasons and near-wins – did they mean the region at large was second-rate? No, but it felt that way at times.

Bigger than the hunger to win was the warmth of connection. As the Super Bowl approached, the region became one big blue-and-green tribe (with the usual cranky holdouts, of course).

There’s a strange parallel to natural calamities. Earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions magically erase grudges, income differences and political divisions; for a while, we’re all on the same team and gladly lending a hand to perfect strangers.

What’s nice about the Super Bowl is that it’s a game, not a disaster. Nobody got buried under rubble, though the Broncos and their fans were probably feeling that way by the third quarter.

The elation won’t last forever. It’s even possible the Seahawks won’t win the Super Bowl next year. In the meantime, let’s relish our broadened sense of family. We’ll get back to griping about each other’s politics soon enough.