College Hoops

Our Soccer Players Have Always Been Models

Or, "How the Seattle U vs. UW Basketball Game Inspired a Look Into Seattle Sports History"

March 3, 2009

It was another slow and sad day in the Seattle sports world. But hey, the Huskies are playing Seattle U for the first time since 1980 tonight. Now, no matter how much Seattle U may be looking at this game as a chance to prove themselves on a bigger stage, as they work their way back into Division I status, let’s not fool ourselves: It’s gonna be a blowout. So instead of bothering with a bunch of statistical analysis, we decided to take a trip down Wikipedia Lane to find what else was going on back in 1980, when we were barely out of diapers and loving us some The Empire Strikes Back on the big screen. (Seriously, who takes their pre-schooler to a movie where a furry, two-legged horse-goat gets sliced open within the first 15 minutes and used an impromptu heating pad? Our parents, and that’s why we love them.)

It’s been almost 30 years since the last hardwood face-off between Seattle’s two biggest colleges, and yeah, a lot’s changed (all you got for your 40-cent bus fare in 1980 was a ride back then; today, for a couple bucks more, you get crack), but a lot is weirdly — and in some cases, creepily — similar.

First, you’ve got the statewide political sitch. The late ’70s and early ’80s was the only other period when Washington had a female governor, Dixy Lee Ray. Unlike our current governor, Christine Gregoire, though, apparently Ray had a thing for lantern fish.

Then you’ve got the Mariners. The fledgling M’s were coming off a 67-95 season in 1979, and things weren’t going to get any better. They’d go on to finish the 1980 season at 59-103, the second-worst record in club history. (Sound familiar?)

On to football: The Tuiasosopo reign of terror over Washington sports actually started in 1979. That was the rookie year of Manu Tuiasosopo, who didn’t exactly light up the NFL but did go on to spawn three notable local athletes: Marques, UW Huskies quarterback and MVP of the 2000 Rose Bowl; Zach, who also played at UW; and Matt, currently in the Mariner’s system.

But best of all — from a purely comedic standpoint — was the Seattle soccer scene. The original Seattle Sounders, then part of the North American Soccer League, had the best record in pro soccer in 1980 (25-7), which was great, but it was the off-the-field stuff that offered up punchline fodder. Almost three decades before the new Sounders FC signed one-time Calvin Klein model Freddie Ljungberg, the Emerald City learned, via The Seattle Times, that former player Terry White had working it as a male model: "His athletic career also has helped him, White said. ‘It gives me a masculine image. I don’t have to worry about coming across as gay.’" At least some things — like tact and sensitivity — have changed since then.

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