Saturday's images of President Obama cheering on his daughter's soccer team reminded me of one of the more interesting theories I've heard for why the Seattle Sounders have become so crazy popular in this city.
In the long view, the fervor is a little mystifying; there have been serious soccer teams to watch in Seattle—and even at Qwest field—for quite some time. But something about the new Sounders is causing people who have never paid any attention to soccer before to start paying close attention, and leading to a run on tickets that has Sounders games sold out through the end of June. What is it?
At a party the other night a Sounders season-ticket holder (and proud soccer-dad) answered the question by floating a grand theory that concerned not just smart marketing by the team's owners but also our new president and what Obama likes to call "this moment"—a moment of re-engagement with the world (and, hence, the sport it far prefers to any other); a moment of new openness to things we've thought couldn't be done (like selling out nine straight soccer games at Qwest field); a moment for a high quotient of teamwork (which soccer provides more elegantly than football, more consistently than baseball, and without the number of self-obsessed primadonnas one finds in basketball).
It's a nice theory. You want it to be right. Maybe it is. Maybe Barack Obama did, in some unquantifiable way, help to create the cultural moment in which the Seattle Sounders could take off.
But I have a few other theories and I'll float some of them here on Slog this week. Meanwhile, if you have a better explanation for why the Sounders have become such a big fucking deal, I'd love to hear it.