The Stranger’s Katie Herzog calls for Seattle to get rid of the Seahawks

The Stranger's Katie Herzog says Seattle should lose the Seahawks if it really wants to be a progressive city. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Seattle claims to lead the nation in Progressive values, but according to one local columnist, if it really wants to live up to its reputation as a bastion of liberalism, it needs to lose one of its most beloved trademarks — The Seahawks.

In a new piece in The Stranger this week, writer Katie Herzog argued that Seattle liberals are nothing but hypocrites if they keep shelling out money for Seahawks tickets.

“Football is ultimately bad for the players, it’s bad for the city if you consider how much taxpayer money goes into supporting this team,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “It’s making a small number of people wealthy, but most of us aren’t benefiting from this, we’re actually paying for it.”

She pointed out that research shows the traumatic head injuries incurred in football can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive brain disease that has been found in the autopsies of hundreds of NFL players’ brains.

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Earlier this summer, the parents of Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski found out that their son had CTE when he took his own life this past January. They told Dori that doctors observed Tyler’s 21-year-old brain to resemble the brain of someone over 60 years old.

Choosing to play football despite the risks of CTE is not the same as an adult taking up a behavior known to be dangerous — such as smoking or drinking — because football players begin their training as kids, Herzog said.

“I don’t think that most people are making these decision as adults,” she said. “I mean, you don’t go into football as an adult and become a pro football player, this is something that kids start out with.”

Since it is known that this sport can cause serious injuries and lifelong, degenerative conditions like CTE, there is also a racial element of concern, according to Herzog. Pro football is overwhelmingly populated by African-American men; when a crowd of white people get together in a stadium and watch black athletes hurt one another, Herzog feels that there is something eerily reminiscent of the gladiatorial battles of Ancient Rome.

“To me, it just looks bad,” she remarked.

If young African-Americans were encouraged to go into STEM rather than professional sports, she said, this could look very different. Instead, however, African-American boys from lower-income families are told that they should aspire to become NFL players in order to earn their ticket to prosperity.

“It’s not like they’re getting equal opportunities; it’s like, this is the goal,” she said.

Herzog was clear that she does not believe The Seahawks should be banned by legal means, but that, through the capitalist system, Seattle residents should stop throwing money at the team, thereby forcing the Seahawks out.

“We’re the customers here, we’re supporting this, if the city really wants to be Progressive, is this really where we want to be putting our time, money, and effort?” she said.

Suggesting that Seattleites abandon their beloved birds is not an idea that Herzog thinks will make her very popular in this city, but she stands behind her values, joking that “fun and Progressiveness don’t really belong together in the same sentence.”

“We’ve got to abandon fun and just embrace hard-core moral virtue,” she laughed.