Sunday, September 07, 2008

the sister and brotherhood of the traveling towel



its been a good sports summer, for the most part. i mean, the olympics were really fun to watch, especially with michael phelps making the rest of us look like mere humans. the women's beach volleyball was also an easy watch, for several reasons. we had some good golf and tennis. baseball, one of my two favorite sports, is always fun (for me), especially on a lazy saturday afternoon in july, when i just want to sit there with a bag of chips and a cold one (see core issues in previous post) and watch these guys chase around a little white ball. i really enjoy it.

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but, alas, both of my teams (pirates, yankees) have fallen short this year and it looks like, even with much baseball yet to play, a kind of hum-drum ending to this baseball season.

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but all hope is not lost. while you were watching mccain's acceptance speech, he was watching the washington redskins lose to the new york giants in the first nfl game of the season. okay, maybe he wasn't watching, but his speech wasn't too much better than the redskins offense, imho (that's really cool text language for in my humble opinion. c'mon, get with it people! [lol]).

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anyway, the football season started on thursday night and really gets into full swing today at 1:00. i have written before and will write again about the pittsburgh steelers franchise and how much i love this team and this sport. i am a big fan. but today i simply wanted to stop and note that i'm not the only one. the pittsburgh steelers are a nationwide phenomenon. all teams have their fanbase, especially in the nfl which seems to be america's dominant sport for the time-being, but the steelers are something altogether different. in a recent article on espn.com that chose the steelers fans as the best football fans in the country, the rationale that was given for the wide appeal of the steelers franchise was this:

"The decline of the steel industry in the 1970s coincided with the rise of the Steelers dynasty. At a time when the city's collective psyche was taking a major blow, the local football team offered a weekly respite. A generation of young people left the city to find work elsewhere, but they remained passionate about their hometown team. And that's why your local stadiums are often invaded by a black-and-gold army."

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you see, i grew up in western pennsylvania, so i'm not a bandwagon fan, but you need to know that following this team is a big deal for me, as it is for people all over the world. we bleed black and gold. we have secret songs (here we go) and even an emblem that marks us, wherever we are, as fans of the best organization in football. its called the terrible towel and was the creation of the late myron cope. and we wave them and carry them and take our pictures with them and cling to them and wring them with anxiety and throw them with disgust. and not just in pittsburgh or the tri-state area. as espn rightly noted, steelers nation is a global phenomenon. just take another look at that picture at the top of this post. there you see our women beach volleyballers celebrating their gold on the medal stand in beijing, but look closer at the top right corner of the picture. that's right . some of us are celebrating a different kind of gold: the black and gold, baby! from beijing to baghdad, from pittsburgh out in all directions, like a gold towel waving, steelers mania has taken hold.

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today it will take hold in new jersey. if you're looking for me, you'll probably find me next to my computer, listening to the radio broadcast of the game. i'll be holding the terrible towel, either waving it with glee, or clutching it with fear. let's hope, for your sake and mine, that the towel is waving.

4 comments:

Megan said...

I'm lucky because today I get to watch the game - even though it coincides with the Eagles opening game. I still can't believe it!!! You won't be able to escape football in our house today!

Mary said...

that terrible towel picture is so awesome at the olympics!

i saw a brief documentary on myron cope and it totally got me psyched for the steeler season! (as if i needed prompting)

anyways...sounds like we got it all started off right today...though i missed it :(

Crafty P said...

WAVE IT, BABY!!! YAHOOOOOOOOOOO

jasonandryansmommy said...

You'll be happy to hear that I, too, have a terrible towel. It's hard to live in Western PA for any amount of time and NOT become a steelers fan. Although my heart will always belong to the Eagles, there is a special place for the Steelers!