Confession of a former 49ers fan

See the original Shaun Says This column from Gig Harbor Life in the Kitsap Sun.


Face it. We’re collectively dying to have any football news to talk about. There’s more attention to the NFL draft right now than to actual Mariners baseball. So in this little dry spell, how about I throw out some NFL controversy — one that many of us have endured.

First though, let’s travel back in time: My wife and I threw a “little” party for the conference game between the 49ers and the Seahawks. We had invited our home group from church, so there were more babies than adults around. We played fair and made the party more exciting by having at least four 49ers fans there (no, those weren’t counted as “babies”). It was an emotional game in every way, especially for those who had no idea what was going on.

This was because every once in a while, a baby would crawl close to the TV just as a big play would happen, and we’d collectively lurch forward and shout and point and absolutely freak the baby out.

By the third baby meltdown, we learned not to let them get so close. Then the amazing finale — the immaculate deflection — happened with the play of the year between Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree, and all the adults melted down, too. And continued to melt down for weeks after.

But I have to confess something (proudly): I only started rooting for the Seahawks last season. Yes, the first year they got hot again since 2005. But before you call me a bandwagon fan, hear me out.

I grew up in Monterey, Calif., during the glory days of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Steve Young — and so many more greats. Red and gold was the standard I bore. As a 10-year-old, life didn’t get much better when your favorite team was winning all the time and your most-hated opponent was the Cowboys.


Then I moved to Washington in 2004 and was immediately surrounded by the fanfare of Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck. I still loved my Niners, but now I had a second favorite team.

Both sets of fans told me I couldn’t love both teams. It boggled their minds. Made their mouths foamy. I’d root for the Seahawks most Sundays, then wear my 49ers shirt the day they played each other. Normally placid people at church would come up to me and razz me. Especially if they had just figured out my secret, “YOU’RE A NINER FAN?” And they’d have this horrified look, like I’d just shot Bambi’s mom.

Then something happened during the 2012-13 season. I realized I knew the names of more Seahawks than 49ers. I found myself caught up in the Russell Wilson love. In the Beast Mode moments. I also started hearing one word more frequently: “BANDWAGON.”

My California friends had another word: “TRAITOR.” It was all in fun, but I craved legitimacy in this especially competitive year, so I set forth the following argument to quell both sides once and for all.

The 49ers had an incredible year in 2012-13. They had a better record than the Seahawks. They won their division and their conference. I still rooted for them, but I wanted my blue and green boys to do better. If I were a bandwagon fan, why would I switch from a winner to a team that was good, but not winning as much? If I were a traitor, why do I still cheer on the Niners every other chance I get? You can wish both teams success. I’m just lucky the NFC West totally dominates.

There you go, I rest my case. I just had to write it down because I’ve verbally said it too many times. That said, feel free to argue with me, as I enjoy it.

In the meantime, my two sons and I can’t wait to don our No. 3 gear and root for Russell Wilson this next year. My 3-year-old cries every time I put him in his jersey, but he also cries when I make him wear pants, so I don’t read too much into it. Maybe someday my kids will move to California and have the reverse experience I’ve had. At least I’ll be able to coach them through it.

So if you’ve ever moved, did you stick with your team? Did you switch immediately to your new hometown? How much love/hate have you gotten?

A friend of mine moved to Colorado recently, and had to deal with this for the Super Bowl, but there are so many more of you torn in two by this controversy —it’s time to tell your story.

Shaun Kempston lives in Gig Harbor with his wife and two sons. His latest controversy is that he wants Russell Wilson to stop using the hashtag #NoTime2Sleep because even champs need some beauty rest to be at their best.

Read the published version over at the Kitsap Sun’s Gig Harbor community section.


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