It’s holiday season, which more often than not, is also the prelude to playoff season for Steeler fans. Just as baseball season typically draws to a painful close in Pittsburgh around the middle of July, so football extends into January most seasons. We’ve already survived Thanksgiving. Now comes Christmas, the season, and the day, followed quickly by New Year’s, the eve and the day. That means more parties, more family, more intense games, and for many, more alcohol. Which can all too easily lead to more problems.
My co-laborer at BTSC, Dan Sager, highlighted two shameful episodes from Heinz Field where shots of frustration were dropped into pints of beer, creating blowing boilermakers. It is ugly, embarrassing, shameful. It is true enough that those kinds of events happen on any given Sunday across the league. Over the past 25 years I’ve been to roughly a dozen Steeler games in half a dozen venues, none of them in Pittsburgh. While the drama I’ve witnessed never rose to the level captured by the videos in Dan’s piece, it has come close a few times. He did well in calling fans to behave themselves while at the games. I want to encourage the same when we are watching from afar.
I’m passionate about the Steelers. I’ve been following them closely since 1972. Most of my conversations later in life with my father eventually got around to something other than the Steelers. And eventually they always came back. But if I am having a terrible time and casting shadows on my loved ones, even when we are losing, even when we are losing stupid, even when we are being double teamed by our opponent and the zebras, even when we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, whatever is going wrong with the game, I’m doing it wrong myself.
I understand the perspective that would say it’s kind of cheating to draw deep joy out of victory, and to draw only minor irritation from a loss. The pendulum should swing equal distances both ways, right? Wrong. It is just a game, after all. Don’t let its vicissitudes rob your home of peace. There have been already more than fifty Super Bowls, and many championships before then. But we have only one family. Families stick together. And families encourage each other to act responsibly. If the Steelers matter to you more than your family, you are deeply disturbed, and your family is not well cared for. Get every ounce of joy you can squeeze from victory. And let losses be water off a duck’s back.
Don’t be that guy. Nothing wrong with everyone knowing you are passionate about the Steelers. Something deeply wrong if the Steelers are that which you are most passionate about in your life. When the cousins stop by from Cleveland, congratulate them on getting better. When your nephew announces over the Christmas goose that he is now on his fourth bandwagon of the year and is certain the
Chiefs , no Rams , no Saints , no, Texans are going all the way, be glad we have six Lombardis and that you have your nephew. And if, perchance, we lose the big game right there in front of that family of non-Steeler fans, and one of them is being that guy, be the better guy and wish him well.