Steeler Nation

September 30, 2007
Posted by Jay Livingston

It’s nice to have your ideas confirmed in the newspaper of record.

Last November, after the Democratic win in the election, I blogged to the effect that the Steelers had replaced the Cowboys as America’s team. I had thought of doing a follow-up post on the same topic, but I’ve been scooped. On Saturday, the central piece on the New York Times op-ed page was an essay about Steeler Nation.

The author, fashion writer Holly Brubach, writes about finding Steeler fans at bars in Rochester, MN, San Francisco, Toronto, and other cities. “Steeler nation seems to outnumber the fans of every other franchise.”

“Seems.” As a social scientist, I know not “seems,” lady. I was waiting till I found some data. And when I do, I’ll blog the Steelers again.

But I admit what inspired me was something like Brubach’s personal experience. A couple of weeks ago, my son, who has become something of a Steelers fan, was prodding me to find a sports bar where we might watch the game. I Googled local sports bars and called the closest one.

Yes, said the woman who answered the phone, they have football games that the regular channels don’t.

“Will you have the Steelers game?” I asked.

“This is a Steeler bar,” she said, surprised, almost offended, as though I’d asked whether they served beer. She added, however, that all the tables had been reserved long ago, though if I showed up early enough, I might be able to squeeze in at the bar.

On Sunday, we walked past that bar. It was about 15 minutes till gametime, and outside on the sidewalk, where smokers are now exiled in New York City, a woman in a Jerome Bettis jersey was talking with a Mean Joe Greene. Through the large front window I could see that the bar area was packed with people in Steeler regalia.

(On days when the Steelers play the 4:15 game, Steeler Nation waits on the sidewalk for the one-o’clock game fans to clear out of the bar, as in these pictures.)

We went to a less crowded bar three blocks further on. Only two people were in black-and-gold jerseys. But even there, pride of place (i.e., the large projection screen and the audio) was given to the Steelers. They crushed the Bills, 26-3.

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