Saturday, September 29, 2007

Steelers Nation: Ft. Lauderdale

This season, something special may be brewing. Steelers Nation receives attention every year, but awareness seems prematurely heightened. A new head coach and a 3-0 start don't hurt, but if the Steelers go into the bye week undefeated then I would expect the coverage to go to another level. I hope you don't mind, but that will mean more of this type of blog post.

For example, a journalist (Heather McCalla) working for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel was working the local Steelers bar beat:

I have to admit, there is a contagious energy at the place, which has come full circle. After more than a decade as a stomping ground for Pittsburgh transplants, East Side Pub was sold and transformed into a gay nightclub that floundered. Last November, it was resurrected as home to the Steeler Nation.

"We're glad to be back! This is home for us," says Sue Johnson, who frequented the original East Side Pub with friends. "And we got our table back! We always have this table ... I call every Sunday at 11 and tell them how many chairs to have for us."

Steeler fans here are not shy about how they feel. Many flaunt the team's symbol tattooed on various spots on their body. Samantha Franconeri, a teacher from Wilton Manors, shows her team spirit with sandals she made from a Steeler blanket. Fort Lauderdale resident Karen Wichman says her family portrait shows everyone in Steeler outfits.

"The minute I found out about the bar, I walked in and knew I was home," Wichman says. "In Pittsburgh, you grow up on football. It's in your blood; no matter where you move to you can't get away from it."

If the Steelers keep winning, I'll find more and more stories just like Ms. McCalla's. I'll be able to add greater detail to my map of the Burgh Diaspora. For me, the stories never get old. If you are not a fan of the Steelers, this obsession must be annoying. You should try watching a game at a Steelers bar. I think you would understand why I think that the Burgh Diaspora is such a powerful force.

1 comment:

joe said...

Personally, I can't get enough of these stories about communities of Pittsburghers coming together around the country.

When you think about it, Steelers Nation is really like a Pittsburgh Diaspora Meet-Up.

The way I see it, if it's going to mean anything beyond football Super Fandom, beer and vaguely shared experiences of growing up here (which get somewhat hazy in the 3rd quarter when the mean craziness of a team playing poorly sometimes kicks in), then has to have some structure, a program of some sort.

Pittsburgh is known for its neighborhoods. Why not pick a different neighborhood to feature each week, and rally the region and the diaspora around the good in that neighborhood? Tell some stories about the neighborhood, past, present and future.

PS...I ran the Great Race today -- it felt good to be among the 11,000 folks shaking a leg on a perfect morning!