Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sports Diaspora Effect

Pittsburgh Steelers training camp is in full swing. Going to Latrobe to see the football team practice is like a pilgrimage. I've made the trip a few times and my experience inspired me to blog about the Burgh Diaspora. Every so often, academics get wind of the same scent:

“Population flow from city-to-city does seem to have an effect on ratings for games,” Tainsky said. “If more people from western Pennsylvania have moved to the Chicago suburbs, the game featuring the Steelers will be popular but only if the game is being played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.”

Tainsky said displaced fans won’t watch in great numbers if the Steelers are playing on the road at, say, Jacksonville, which may indicate that viewers aren’t necessarily tuning in for the game itself, but rather for the feelings of nostalgia that watching a football game on a Sunday evokes.

“It makes them think back to where they’re from, and the good times they had watching those games in the past,” he said. “So there’s more to it than just the game itself.”

I was neither born nor raised (nor did I attend university) in Pittsburgh, but I still feel a thrill when the camera pans across the city skyline. Yet I find the conclusions about the "diaspora effect" surprising. Watching the Steelers play anywhere invokes nostalgia.

I'm not a member of the Burgh Diaspora. I belong to Steelers Nation. Apparently, natives ache to see a glimpse of home. I'm a type of fan who has fallen into the cracks of the analysis. Do other Steelers fans from Erie feel the same way I do?

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