What's Tony Thinking

Pucks, Trucks and Frisbees


We went to Opening Day last week. No, not baseball and the Seattle Mariners. Opening Day, actually night, for the Seattle Tempest. Never heard of the Seattle Tempest? Well, it is our hometown women’s professional Ultimate Frisbee team.

The Tempest and the Cascades (men’s ultimate team) play their home games at Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center. Their fans were wildly enthusiastic, young and diverse in race/ ethnicity. While the fans didn’t pack the south/ home side stands, the numbers were solid. The opponent, the Colorado Alpenglow, fell to the Tempest, who — turns out — are the league’s defending champion

Who knew? Professional Ultimate Frisbee? That said, it wasn’t our first Ultimate match as one of our grandsons, who was with us, plays Ultimate. It is a fast-moving, mostly non-contact sport that combines elements of basketball (passing is what it’s all about) and soccer (constant running). Seeing the 21 members of the Tempest, and equal that of Alpenglow, lined up pre-game on the field for opening ceremonies was moving. The ceremonies included a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (in place of the “Star Spangled Banner”).

You have to feel good about the growth of women’s sports. There were a lot of years that women and girls didn’t have these opportunities and experiences. (And, by the way, the NCAA Women’s Final Four was, it seems, every bit as exciting and well-played as the men’s.)

That evening The Tempest weren’t the only show in town, not by a long shot. Pre-game we went by the Center-House food court, where we anticipated picking up dinner with ease among what is generally a relatively small number of people in the old Armory building. Noooo Way. The Center-House was absolutely packed with fans of our second-year NHL team, the Seattle Kraken. A pre-game Kraken rally was underway for the crowd — clad in Kraken gear — that just kept coming. I was . . . stunned. I had no idea hockey was such a big deal here.

I chatted with a couple of Canadians, who had flown down from Alberta to take in the Kraken that night and the Mariners the next day. Meanwhile, on the other side of downtown from Seattle Center, the Mariners faced Cleveland (formerly “the Indians,” now “the Guardians”) at T-Mobile Park. And there was action too at the adjacent Lumen Field. I had thought the Seattle Sounders (soccer) were at Lumen, which they share with the Seahawks. I learned later that the Sounders were on the road in California, but that a Monster Truck Rally was happening at Lumen Field. At least that night, downtown Seattle was hopping.

These days Linda and I don’t take in a lot of professional sports, but clearly others do with people coming from throughout the Pacific Northwest for these teams. What a scene. Imagine if Seattle sports regains its NBA franchise, the Sonics, a pursuit that is pretty much the holy grail of Seattle sports. Meanwhile, the women’s WNBA team, the Seattle Storm, who share Climate Pledge Arena with the Kraken, are a big-draw and multi-year champion.

Take-aways? Even if people aren’t coming to downtown Seattle as much as they used to for work — the traffic flow on 520 and I-90 seems more away from Seattle and to the Eastside in the morning than it does into Seattle — they are coming here for sports. Sports which must be bringing not only a lot of people, but business into our pandemic-chastened Emerald City. The once sleepy food concessions in the Center-House were enjoying long lines and the kind of crowds once seen by restaurants downtown. Maybe Seattle’s future is less as a work-hub and more as a sports and culture magnet? That would fit well with the morphing of Seattle from office buildings to residential complexes. Now if Seattle can just get more of the downtown housing affordable to a broader range of people!

Another take-away. Sitting in the midst of a crowd of mostly twenty and thirty-somethings, which as I said was wonderfully mixed in race/ ethnicity (and that was true within friendship groups) this generation of folks seems big on fun and play, and on expressing their affection for one another. Maybe that will erode with kids, mortgages or just getting older? But I hope not. It had been a week of some very bad news, but then which week isn’t these days? Despite that, those young ‘uns seemed determined to have fun, to laugh, to whoop it up, to be playful. Which somehow seems especially appropriate for “professional frisbee,” a wee bit of an oxymoron, don’t you think?

We need — I need — more fun, more play, more joy. What was that that C. S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Or as the saying goes, Hallelujah Anyhow!









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