Football entering new era? Real meaning of the 12th man.

Richard Sherman

HT and credit for pix:

Richard Sherman holds forth on value of the 12th man, beginning at 5:01″

We’ve been thinking deep thoughts about the state of the union and looking for signs of hope. We think we have found it.

But let’s back up a bit. IFO has always been partial to baseball and will never lose her love for it. She believes it is the quintessential American game, which is why few have adopted it outside of Central America and Japan and in those cases mainly to supply great ball players to US teams.

The entire premise of baseball is that the individual is central to every activity. Sure, there’s a team, but plays are made by individuals – pitcher, catcher, first baseman (esp. first baseman!), other fielders and the batter. Unbelievable coordination of plays (Tinkers, to Evers to Chance – TRIPLE PLAY!), thinking ahead multiple steps before each and every pitch, one individual against nine individuals for each 1/2 inning – this is America.

IFO hasn’t followed football since high school, but she’s thought about the contrast between the two major American sports. And, no, soccer is not American. But football, as a shocked Swiss friend pointed out after attending one game at Michigan State University, is militaristic. Two armies face each other. Within each army, each heavily-armored player has a role to play.

On the sidelines there are pretty girls prancing around waving pom-poms, revving up the crowd. There is a military sounding band playing during the game and at half-time. Also at half-time there’s big deal entertainment.

Now, look at Seattle Seahawks. We mentioned in an earlier post how interested we were to be in Seattle during the playoff when Seattle won the right to go to the Super Bowl. We were struck by our own emotional reaction and by the team-color-decorated fans we saw streaming toward the stadium for the game.

We saw 12s everywhere. On buildings and in store windows. On flags and on all kinds of apparel. Then we read a Seattle newspaper article talking about Paul Allen, who gave tons of credit to coaches, general manager and players and to “the 12th man.”

The 12th MAN. An individual. Not “The fans.” This is a crucial difference. Listen to Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, a hotbed of individuals if there ever was one:

“The 12th man, I have to give so much credit,” Seahawks chairman Paul G. Allen said, “and to Pete Carroll and (GM) John Schneider. The preparation was amazing. It was an amazing performance.”

Here’s coach Pete Carroll, in the same article

“We take this trophy back, and everybody knows we take this trophy back to the 12th man.” The Seahawks’ fans let out a huge roar [at the stadium in New Jersey! –Ed.] after that compliment. 

When Seattle and the fans hear that, they hear, “He’s talking about me!” They feel personally recognized and responsible. They are contributing members of the team.

If Seahawks fans are no longer unthinking robots blindly supporting a football team, there is hope for America. If Seahawks coaches, players and managers recognize the 12th man, to IFO, that means they also recognize the value of individuality and the contribution all individuals make to large enterprises.

What so we learn from this? That there is hope for America. For our economy. Even for our government.


About InvestingforOne

I've been investing in various assets by myself using a discount broker for many years. Over that time, I've developed some theories that others might find useful. Plus, there is more to investing than money. Time, talent, work, friends, family all go into developing a good and satisfactory strategy.
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