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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

February 19, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Seahawks fan in Spain: A 12th Man goes Beast Mode near Barcelona

Pablo Miralles

Pablo Miralles

By Pablo Miralles

“Football, that’s rugby, isn’t it?”

“Do you really like that sport?”

“Can you really understand the game?”

This is usually the reaction when you ask someone about football in Spain. I should know.  I’m a football fan of the Seahawks and Huskies, even though I was born in Barcelona and I live in a small town about 30 miles from the city.

In my country, soccer (fútbol in Spanish) is the national sport. Everyone understands soccer and everyone loves one of the Spanish teams. When I was a kid, I always played soccer at school or on the street with friends. In recent years, the national teams are reaping many successes internationally. In fact,  Spain is the current World Cup champion.

Others sports are always secondary: basketball, handball, tennis, etc. During my childhood and youth in the 1980s, other sports news from the United States began to come in very slowly. Mainly, there was talk about the NBA. In Spain, basketball is the second sport. Once a week, it was possible to watch an NBA game and the highlights of the rest of the games.

In Catalonia, the region of Spain where I live, regional public television started transmitting an NFL game each week. It is that time when I started to be curious about the game. These were the glory days of the San Francisco 49ers. I discovered Joe Montana, Roger Craig, Jerry Rice, Steve Young and other NFL players such as “The Refrigerator” Perry.

I loved everything about the game. What I liked the most was the passing. It was amazing to see how Joe Montana was able to throw those long passes and how Rice was able to catch them. Awesome.

A European football league was born. The teams played in Europe with American players. Barcelona’s team was
called the Dragons, but no longer exists. I went to the stadium a couple of times.

In 2010, I started following more seriously the NFL. I basically followed the competition on through highlights. I was a supporter of no team. My goal just was to understand as much as possible about this new game, to know the teams, players, rules, etc.

At the end of the regular season came the playoffs. It caught my attention how a team with a losing record (7-9 ) could clinch the playoffs. This team named the Seattle Seahawks played the Super bowl winner: New Orleans Saints.

That game ended in a spectacular way: The Seahawks won thanks to Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard rush touchdown. It was the beginning of the “Beast Mode.”

I had become another member of the 12th man!

From that moment, I have been following the season in a more sustained way. I especially follow the Seahawks’ evolution. During the last two years I decided to get more involved in this world. I often check several Websites from the United States. I read articles, listen to podcasts, and watch the games, streaming or delayed.

This past year I’ve discovered that there is an increasingly active football fan group in Spain, although it’s still small. It’s possible to find several podcasts, blogs and articles in Spanish. This has helped me to expand my knowledge of this sport and also to contact other Spanish fans.

This season, to complete this “holy madness,” I decided to follow college football. At first it was difficult to understand how this competition works, but now I do. I followed carefully the bowls and actually participated in the “College Bowl Mania.”

When I had to choose a team, it was very easy:  the Washington Huskies. I don’t know why, but I have always liked everything  about Seattle.

This season has been especially exciting for me. The Seahawks have been  spectacular, the best team, with a sensational performance in the Super  Bowl.

In Spain, this game was early morning (from 12:30 a.m. until past 4 a.m.) and the next day I had to go to work. Yet I could not miss the match. I watched it in my house by streaming on my Ipad. It was spectacular from beginning to end. A complete and flawless game.

The team was able to shock down Peyton Manning and the other Denver players. I loved the planning game by Peter Carroll. I love this coach and the winning mentality of the team. I have watched the game several times and never get enough.

To live through the offseason easier, I decided to create a multi-language blog about the Seahawks and Huskies. My idea is to express my point of view from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I’m getting so much support and congratulations from my family and friends and the football supporters in Spain. I’ m very excited about this project. I will try to update the blog as much as my professional and family obligations will allow me.

I would like to contribute to  diffusion of the sport that I love in my country. It is a difficult task, but step by step we are being able to help people follow football and understand the sport in this part of world.

Go football! Go Hawks! Go Huskies!

Pablo Miralles, 42, lives in Piera, Spain, near Barcelona, and works in public administration. He and his wife have a 5-year-old son. Read his multi-language football blog.

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