The Bond

Holly Brubach, had a nice piece in the Times about the bonds that hold the Steeler Nation together.

“Back in the ’70s, Bob Ryan, an editor for NFL Films, christened the Cowboys “America’s team,” because their following extended far beyond Dallas. Today, however, Steeler Nation seems to outnumber the fans of every other franchise, Dallas included, thanks in large part to the great Pittsburgh diaspora: with the economic devastation that followed the closing of the mills, the population dwindled to less than half what it was in 1950. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Web site lists Steeler bars in all 50 states, more than 20 foreign countries and, in recent seasons, at a research outpost on Antarctica. Steeler fans are literally everywhere.”

It seems to me that there are only three truly mythic fan bases is pro sports and all three have a deep link to memory and tragedy. There’s the Steeler Nation, The Brooklyn Dodger fans and The fan base of New York Yankees. To me rooting for the Yankees is tied to rooting for the Bronx.

2 Comments so far

  1. Noah (unregistered) on September 30th, 2007 @ 10:01 am

    The Steelers have a pretty awesome franchise that, even when the team is not good, is always supportive. I would question the loyalty of some Yankees fans. Being a child of the 80s born and raise in NY, for the first half of my life, the Yanks had a horrible team, and rarely if ever made the playoffs. I don’t remember nearly as many fans back then, and I was a huge baseball fan at the time, so I would have noticed. I question how deep that Yankee love runs in some people.

    But also, I would add in the Chicago Bears to that group. It seems that any bar you go to in America on a football Sunday, there is at least one table of Bears fans rooting them on.

  2. John Morris (unregistered) on September 30th, 2007 @ 11:53 am

    I agree that that at least half of the Yankee fans are fair weather friends, but I think there’s a very strong core tied to the Bronx, and Washington heights as well as very hard core baseball nuts (The Yankee dynasties pretty much guarantee that) The Mets had a very hard core base that I think was transferred from the Brooklyn Dodgers but it’s fading. I also think a case can be made for sticking the Boston Red Sox in there.

    What’s strange about the Steelers is the size of the base in relation to the small population and importance of the Pittsburgh region now. One other group that one could include would be Manchester United fans and that seems to also relate to tragedy.

    “Manchester United Football Club is an English football club, based at the Old Trafford stadium in Trafford, Greater Manchester, and is arguably the most popular football club in the world, with over 50 million supporters worldwide;[1][2] average attendances at the club have been higher than any other team in English football for all but six seasons since 1964-65.[3]”

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