In times like these, indeed.
In a decision that really wasn’t much of a surprise, it was reported on Tuesday all 32 NFL teams must conduct their 2020 training camps at their home facilities this summer.
The move is another in a long line of safety measures taken by the NFL as a means to control the spread of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic which still has the sports world in an Andre the Giant-style bear hug.
For the Steelers, one of 10 NFL teams who like to have their training camps at off-site locations, this means they will not be traveling to St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. for the first time since 1966. Instead, they’ll be conducting training camp at the same place they conduct rookie camp, OTAs, mini-camp and their in-season practices— their South Side facility.
It sucks, but I got it right away before even hearing the why. After all, as a person who has been trained in the many complex ways to navigate through various Giant Eagle locations for the past few months— “You can’t go that way, sir”— I realize the NFL is just trying to limit and control where and how far people travel.
And when I say people, I’m referring to NFL personnel, only. I don’t know about you, but well before the NFL made things official there was no way I could envision the league or the team wanting to deal with the logistical nightmare of trying to control where Steelers fans went as they walked around the massive training camp complex at Saint Vincent College—not a great recipe for practicing safe social distancing—and how many of them would have been allowed to go there in the first place.
Why even mess with it this year? It’s just not worth the extra work, nor is it worth the potential harm which could befall fans, coaches, and even the players.
In keeping training camp at the South Side facility, a place I assume has already been fortified for COVID-19, it’s much easier to control who comes in, when they come in, and how many come in.
Will fans be allowed to attend and watch? This is just a guess, but heck no, and that’s as it should be. The NFL and its teams have to do all that they can to make sure they get to play football this year. And for a league that’s still holding out hope for full stadiums this September, there’s no point in risking the over nostalgia, over tradition.
Speaking of tradition, the Steelers are all about that and that’s why it’s no surprise that they have already made it quite clear they’re going to be back at St. Vincent College for 2021’s training camp. The organization knows how important the site is to so many Steelers fans, many of whom travel from all parts of the world just to see them practice each summer. More importantly, the Steelers realize how much of an economic boom it is for the city of Latrobe.
There has been talk for years of the Steelers possibly breaking the tradition and holding their training camps on the South Side. This talk has never come from the organization, of course, and it’s probably because there’s simply no point in permanently breaking from tradition.
Why would the Steelers even consider it? Latrobe is only an hour away from Pittsburgh, and once you’re there, you’re there until training camp breaks just a few weeks later.
Steelers training camp will indeed be back at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. next season and many seasons after that. As for this year, in a time like this, keeping things closer to home is necessary— the less everyone travels the better. It’s a sacrifice, sure, but everyone is making them.
Things will hopefully be back to normal for the Steelers next year. They, like the rest of us, just have to get through this year, first.