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Letter to the editor about Seahawks crowd noise sparks internet firestorm

Sep 18, 2013, 4:15 PM PDT


Those pesky Seahawks fans are too dang noisy.

After the Seahawks routed the 49ers 29-3 on Sunday Night Football — setting a decibel level record in the process — Judy Spelman, 69, and Richard Schiller, 74, decided enough is enough.

The couple from Point Reyes Station wrote a letter to the editor in Tuesday’s San Francisco Chronicle voicing their opinion that the NFL should quiet down Seattle’s Football team.

Since writing the letter, Spelman and Schiller say they have received many “nasty” phone calls and emails from Seahawks fans and inquiries from several media outlets.

“Personally, most of the responses have been pretty bad,” Schiller said on the phone. “We got some nasty calls — quite a few of them. We had to unplug our phone last night.”

The calls have been to their home and mobile devices and emails are flooding their inboxes. As angry Seahawks fans found a way to connect with the elderly couple, their opinions couldn’t be further apart.

“It felt like a disconnect between us and the Seattle fans,” Spelman said. “We love Pete Carroll, we love the rivalry, I like the Seahawks as a team… We were disappointed, in a way, in the game, because we felt like the noise really kept (Colin) Kaepernick from getting the signals to the team.”

Here’s the letter the couple wrote that got the Pacific Northwest up in arms.

Was anyone else appalled by the unsportsmanlike conduct of the Seattle Seahawks and their fans, juiced on noise, which surely creates as big an advantage over an opponent as any performance enhancing drug and which, to their shame, NFL officials turn the same blind eye they have to concussions and drugs?

It would be simple to fix. Seahawks players and managers would ask their fans to cease and desist, and the NFL would implement a new rule: The visiting team may stop the game when fan noise is greater than a specified decibel level, and should this rule be violated in more than three games, no home games will be played at the offending field for the rest of the season, including playoff games. Things would quiet down.

At a time when the world seems sour, sports give us a place of joy, community and hope, and to have it spoiled is a bigger loss than it seems on the surface.

The letter garnered viral buzz when it was posted on Reddit and picked up by Deadspin early Wednesday afternoon. The self-described “old folks” that wrote the letter, say they have been 49ers fans since 1982, and have attended many games at Candlestick Park. They feel that comparing the sound level on the field in San Francisco and Seattle is like comparing apples to oranges.

“If you measure the decibel levels, it’s very different,” Schiller explained.

“The difference in Seattle’s stadium, for whatever the reason is physically, disrupts the game in a way that it doesn’t seem to in any other stadium,” Spelman added. “You don’t see other teams in Candlestick (Park) not being able to communicate signals.”

Most people on the internet ripped the letter to shreds, even thinking it could be satire. Criticizing the home field advantage that every team in football has is a tough sell. However, another Chronicle reader wrote a letter agreeing with Spelman and Schiller’s take.

I couldn’t agree more with “Unsportsmanlike conduct in Seattle” (Letters, Sept. 17).

It wasn’t a game of skill anymore; it was an exhibition of excessive stadium noise, posturing obscenities in your opponent’s face to draw a foul and street-punk behavior to fire up tensions to gain any advantage to get the win.

I hope the NFL will listen before the fans go deaf. Please stop the excessive stadium noise, and just play football.

The get off my lawn-type feel of these letters brings to mind the recent voicemail left at the Sacramento River Cats front office, in which an angry elderly lady is disgusted by Manny Ramirez’ dreadlocks. There’s one big difference, though. Spelman and Schiller don’t seem unhinged in any way. They just wanted to open up a dialog about noise in the NFL and they ended up getting more than they bargained for.

Their goal was to eventually send similar letters to football teams across the league in order to gauge whether or not they should continue to push their cause. They felt that if the league wanted Seattle to quiet down, it would make for better competition.

“Then we would be back to real sports, where the best man wins,” Spelman said.

The league does have rules regarding excessive sound in place, but they don’t try to control how much noise the crowd makes. Spelman and Schiller will have to wait until December 8, when the Seahawks take on the 49ers in San Francisco, to see if there is a difference.

It will be interesting to see if they will be among the thousands yelling when Russell Wilson is in the huddle and under center.

  1. in3webelieve - Sep 18, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    Put on a skirt and watch golf. Your whiner attitude only fuels our noise. You better hope the road to the superbowl doesn’t run through seattle

    Reply Report comment
    • number1ninersfan - Sep 18, 2013 at 9:27 PM

      Face it!!! If teams could hear at this the Clink Seattle would not win nearly the games at home!!! Every Seattle fan knows it!! I live here and seattle is good yes, but your stadium gives u an unfair advantage

      Reply Report comment
      • dans761 - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        “Us” is not you. You might live in Seattle but you’re not a Seahawks fan. Usually the home team has an advantage.. I know, hard to believe right! Don’t act like you’re a Seahawks fan cuz you’re not. I would bet you’re not even from Seattle

  2. number1ninersfan - Sep 18, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Hate to say it but they kind of have a point… its becomes something other then football… its not really a game anymore.. although the punishment is far too harsh!!!!

    Reply Report comment
    • dans761 - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      Says the loser.. Excuses excuses excuses!

      Reply Report comment
  3. rhoadsmike - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    They pump the noise in through their sound system. The decibel levels reached are unattainable by fans alone.

    Reply Report comment
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