The Steelers will break camp Thursday out at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.—a place where they’ve prepared for every regular season since the 1960s—and for the 43rd time since 1972, I will have missed every single practice session.
I could have attended any practice I wanted to this summer. Take Tuesday, for example. I received a text message from my uncle on Monday morning asking me if I wanted to take his son (my cousin) to a meet and greet session with Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley followed by VIP access to that day’s practice session.
I thought about it long and hard, but after deciding that earning money (something no non-Steeler who attends training camp besides Ed Bouchette, Christopher Carter and a few others can actually do) was more important for my immediate survival, I texted back a disappointed “no.”
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t THAT disappointed. After all, how much better could a VIP view of Steelers training camp be than, say, the vantage-point from the hillside I sat on last summer?
Probably much better, right? Oh well, there will be other VIP offers, and if there aren’t, I can just make a day of it at the team’s annual Family Fest Heinz Field practice they conduct on a select Sunday in early August. The Steelers held such a practice on August 4, 2019. I know, I was there—or should I say, I was on the North Shore, getting my Sunday steps in as I passed many fans clad in black and gold gear. I could have very easily checked into Heinz Field, paid $10 for a ticket and observed a few hours of practice.
Nah, I had to get home and get ready for my bowling match that evening. To reiterate, there will be another Family Fest practice next season that I can attend...provided it doesn’t interfere with my bowling night.
As a life-long Pittsburgher, am I taking training camp for granted? Saint Vincent College isn’t exactly a hop, skip and a jump from where I live (it’s 36 miles, according to my GPS), but it’s certainly close enough to attend at least one practice every summer.
There are fans that drive and fly from far and wide to attend a Steelers training camp. I know because I’ve talked to folks from Minnesota, California and even Europe during previous visits to Latrobe.
People save money to book flights and hotel rooms just to attend one training camp session. Some would rather spend a week’s vacation sitting on the grass of Saint Vincent than on the sand of some beach.
Me, all I need is a half a tank of gas and some money for tolls, and yet, my general reaction to the idea of going is “meh.”
At this point, I need a girlfriend to get me to camp (that’s the only reason I finally started attending them in the late-00s) or a kid (mine or someone else’s—I took my niece last year). I offered to drive a couple of friends to camp this summer and pay the tolls, but not because I really wanted to go. This was just to show my gratitude for friend things they’ve done for me recently (yeah, because that equals a free ticket to a Pitt basketball game—I’m such a cheapskate).
Am I a bad Steelers fan for only going to camp every other season or so since 2009? For that matter, am I a bad Steelers fan for not going at all until 2009?
Should I forever be banished from Saint Vincent College? If your answer to all of the above is “yes,” am I a bad Steelers fan for not being too upset about it?