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A Letter From the Editor: The perils of “ranking season”

Beware some of these rankings during “ranking season”.

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The other day I was doing what I usually do this time of year, the offseason, and that entails scouring the inter-webs to find interesting articles regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers. When we say we want BTSC to be your “one-stop-shop” for all things Steelers, we mean it, and that means I have to sometimes go out and find the stories and bring them to the readers.

It’s part of the job.

To me, one of the craziest aspects of the NFL offseason is how the content immediately shifts once the regular season is over. Much less in-depth analysis, and much more of the simple content. And when I say simple content, I am talking about rankings.

All sorts of rankings.

Power Rankings, positional rankings, team need rankings, NFL Draft rankings, etc.

I could go on, but I know you get the picture.

Before I go any further, I have to admit I am as guilty as the next writer who might find it easier to go the route of the ranking, than to have to pour over hours of data/film to put together a story.

We’re all guilty.

But, to me, there was one ranking I saw which caught my eye, and spawned this tale of warning to all those who like to read a good ranking article from time to time. The article was written by BET MGM and talked about the “best fan bases” in the NFL.

I admit, I fell for it. I clicked.

What the headline was on the search and once you got into the article were different. The main headline was based on “most fans in attendance”. As I always do, I scanned to see where the Steelers ranked, assuming they’d be near the top of the list. I was wrong.

The Steelers ranked 23rd on the list.


You’re telling me there are 22 fan bases better than the Steelers? The Pittsburgh Steelers?! The team with six Super Bowl trophies and one of the largest, and most rabid, fan bases in all of professional sports?

I wasn’t buying what they were selling.

As I read the fine print, I realized how they came to their conclusion. It wasn’t based on fan base, it was based on home game attendance. So, anyone with the willingness to see the forest through the trees would know the Steelers would be at a disadvantage in this ranking system. Why? Acrisure Stadium, formerly known as Heinz Field, is one of the smaller stadiums in the NFL.

Even after expansion, the stadium holds only 68,400 people. That ranks 18th in the NFL based on capacity. The largest stadium in the league is MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, which holds 82,500 people at capacity.

So when the BET MGM article said the Steelers were 23rd in this ranking, it was based on the average of 66,280 in attendance in 2022. While this is far from selling out every game, fans should realize this particular ranking is going to be skewed towards the team with bigger venues, not necessarily the “best fans”.

With all of that said, use this as a cautionary tale during this “ranking season”. Not every ranking is what it looks like, and very few provide any actual value outside of water cooler fodder.

Okay, I need to go check out some more rankings before the AFC and NFC Championship games begin this afternoon.

(Note: the “Letter From the Editor” article runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)