Friday, June 22, 2007

Steelers Nation Never Sleeps

Some of you may not be familiar with the Steelers Nation online community. There are hundreds of fansites and fan clubs that make a virtual connection. With the Pittsburgh Club post making the rounds today in the Post-Gazette, I thought I'd take my five minutes of fame and share the site that inspired the Burgh Diaspora blog.

The bulk of the discussion at takes place in the Heinz Field forum, where Steelers talk reigns supreme. The banter can get unruly. Think of a barroom debate about sports, which captures the tenor of the exchanges you'll often find online. My favorite forum on the site is The Swap Meet, which really heats up once game tickets go on sale. This is where a bunch of us crazy fans got together and planned a tailgating party at the game in San Diego against the Chargers.

I'm most proud of the professional beat reporters who provide us with the news and insight that feed our appetite for everything Steelers. Jim Wexell writes regularly for the Uniontown Herald-Standard, along with contributing to a number of professional sports publications such as the Steelers Digest. I think he should be best known for two excellent books about the Pittsburgh Steelers: Tales From Behind the Steel Curtain and Pittsburgh Steelers: Men of Steel. I can honestly say that both are great reads with stories that would surprise even the most rabid Steelers fan. Dale Lolley writes for the Washington Observer-Reporter. He hasn't written any books that I know about, but he does have a blog. I don't know how Jim and Dale tolerate all our questions about Steelers minutiae, such as the backgrounds of undrafted rookie free agents who won't survive the training camp cuts.

But the backbone of the community is comprised of posters who volunteer their time to moderate the message boards, answer questions, and keep the site running. I began to wonder what the Burgh Diaspora could do for Pittsburgh while I witnessed all the hard work one Steelers fan would do for another with just a "thank you" serving as payment. The altruism between fans demonstrates the power of connectivity and the strong pull of Pittsburgh.

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