Opinion

Professional sports teams alone don't make us a 'big league' city

big league city The current concerns regarding the Seahawks bring us to where we should look at our value systems. Is Seattle a "Big League City"? Of course it is, but not just because we have Big League ball teams.
   What we need to evaluate is just how important ball teams are to our claim of big league status. There are many other industries in Seattle that contribute to our claim, and most of them are affected very little by the existence or the non-existence of Big League ball teams.
   For instance, the Boeing Company contributes heavily to our big league status. How many airplanes does Boeing sell because we have the Seahawks? Probably none.
   We have one of the busiest seaports in the world, and that is a great asset to our claim of importance in the world. But how many ships make Seattle a Port of Call because we have the Seahawks? Likely none.
   Microsoft is a major contributor to our status in the world. But how much of Microsoft's business comes from the fact that we also have an NFL football team? Very little, if any.
   These are the businesses that give us jobs and let us keep up the way of life we have come to expect in our great city.
   Recently my 13-year-old grandson, Ben, who lives in Anchorage, put our addiction to sports and sports heroes as our idea of our identity into perspective.
   When I took him to a Mariners game we came in a little late. As we entered the stadium and approached from the right field area, he caught a glimpse of the right fielder below us.
   "Grandpa!" he exclaimed, "Look, that's Kirby Puckett! Wow, I have his rookie of the year card!!"
   I had to tell him that he was supposed to be impressed with the Mariners, not the opposing team. But Ben would have no part of that logic.
   Maybe we are wrong and Ben is right. Isn't Kirby Puckett really just as great a player to us as he is to the people in whichever city he happens to have signed a contract to play for?
   And who is it that is speaking for Seattle to say that the majority even wants NFL football? Perhaps we forget that when there are 75,000 people at a Seahawk game, there are nearly two million of us in the Puget Sound area who have found other things to do.
   Professional football is just one of the industries that Seattle has. If they are able to make a profit here from the money that real fans pay to watch them play, then I am confident they would stay here. The owners, just like the owners of Boeing and the others, are going to try to do the things that make a profit. Let's let them make their business decisions based on business considerations, and let's not delude ourselves that professional sports teams alone make us a Big League City.

Frank Baker, Woodinville