I grew up in Seattle and waited years for the Seahawks to go to the Superbowl. They did… and they lost (2006). I waited again and in 2014 my team became the Superbowl Champion Seattle Seahawks!
I love… er, thoroughly enjoy my Seahawks. It’s great being a fan, obviously. Another Superbowl run would be fun!
On September 15, 2013, the 12th Man in Seattle broke the Guiness Book of World Records for loudest crowd. They collectively belted 136.6 decibels at one point in my beloved Seahawks routing of the San Francisco 49ers. This wasn’t a second or third attempt at the world record. The fans in Century Link Field were one and done. They hold the record.
I’ve added my vocal chords to that chorus before. It’s pretty fun.
Alisa asked why the fans in Seattle were able to do that. What’s the deal up there? People in every NFL town root on their teams, but there’s a different culture in Seattle. How were they able to do that? It’s the culture.
The culture goes back years. I remember games in the Kingdome where the Seahawk fans caused great problems for opposing teams. Audibles can not be done effectively in Seattle. It’s been that way for a long, long time. When the Kingdome was imploded and Seahawks stadium went up there was the thought that moving from a dome to an open air stadium would make things easier for the other team. Obviously that didn’t happen. The building changed but the culture remained.
I’ve watched the stands in other cities and am amazed of how different places can be. It’s the same exciting game. It’s often the same 2 teams playing, but the fans are entirely different. In some stadiums there are empty seats. (Seattle is approaching 100 straight sell outs and tickets are hard to come by. That’s years of no empty seats!) In some cities the seats are full but the people are sitting. They applaud, maybe, but there’s little vocal engagement happening. In Seattle you stand and yell for 4 quarters (except for when the good guys have the ball). They could remove the seats and many might not notice. In other cities you’ll notice a few trying to crank up their fellow fans, and granted these are the ones who make the TV broadcast, but they have little influence because the prevailing calm culture is so strong.
Do you have people around you encouraging and promoting the culture you want to see in your environment? You can say all the right words and give all the right incentives to people, but culture will win the day. Change the culture and it will direct the organization.
Leaders can do this. Leaders can change the culture. The 12th Man idea has been promoted by the Seattle Seahawks. For the past few years before the opening kick off a Seahawk Celebrity will raise the 12th Man flag and the crowd goes crazy! The game is on… and then the Kick Off. Where did the 12th Man Flag come from? Leaders brought it in to promote the culture and it works.
What can you do to change the culture in your church or organization? What have you seen work in other places? Is it easier to create a new culture than to change an old one? Comment below.