Wednesday, January 21, 2009

That's Super

A couple of years ago CT published this article about Christianity and football. Not only does the author teach at my parents alma mater but he is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan which made me like it even more. If you want a better perspective than read that article, I won't be offended.

I'm a Steelers fan. Yes, I do have a Terrible Towel. No, I do not refer to the Pittsburgh Steelers as “we,” “us,” “our.” I am excited that they are in the Super Bowl. Like everything I critically think about why I cheer for the Steelers and the logic of my fanship.

Probably the greatest draw to the Steelers is the positive memories I have with my family. Both parents are from Pittsburgh and although I don’t see my extended family much it is something we all hold in common. From a young age I inherited my Dad’s team and have made the choice to cheer for them as well. (Do you see the overtly religious overtones here? This is exactly how people talk about their faith.) The city of Pittsburgh conjures up good memories of family vacations, Grandma’s apple butter, my cousin’s big backyard, and road trips.

Although I have never lived there the blue collar town of Pittsburgh fascinates me. The football team epitomizes the people of the city. They are gritty, hard working, and simple. All traits I admire. They are loyal to their team and expect the best. Also traits I admire.

The population has declined rapidly in the past 30 years. The economy has seen better days. So in a city steeped in crisis (and what feels like a culture of depression) there is a football team that has a tradition of success. It gives them a chance for vicarious triumph.

I’m not going to call the Steelers “saviors” of the city. I won’t justify the temporary and artificial hope of professional sports. But the ethos of their team reflects the character of the people who live there. In most professional sports it is rare to find a team and a city that are concerned with more than money and entertainment. Sure the Steelers are a financial enterprise but I commend their investment into their specific location.

Now the city is on the eve of a re-birth. With the relocation of some companies and the arts it is starting to become trendy. If Pittsburgh is a hipster place in years to come that is fine. As long as they aren’t too hip for their football team.

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