Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks For Steeler Nation

The story is dated, but the recognition is timely:

The People's World took Second Prize in the feature story category for John Wojcik's article Steeler Nation Fights its Way Back.

According to the judges, "Wojcik spoke with out-of-town fans who had made the trek from California to Pittsburgh for the game; it turns out, like many Steelers fans across the country, the family's patriarch had worked at the Homestead Mill until it was shuttered in 1989. Wojcik captures the pride these former steel workers felt in the work they did, the devastation of the mass layoffs, and their struggles since, working fast-food jobs for minimum wage. Wojcik's essay makes an eloquent argument for an industrial policy in America."

"I wondered why there were all these Steeler fan clubs across the country, more than most teams," Wojcik said. "When I was in Pittsburgh, I asked the question of these guys at the bar. It turned out that, because of the shutting of the mills, people scattered and there's this diaspora of people from that area who still love their hometown team."

The Burgh Diaspora sometimes seems as segregated as its hometown. For a few years, I've been aware of the different outmigration patterns for African-Americans. I still obsess gender distinctions. I've thought less about class divisions and how that might impact the expatriate experience.

I would expect white collar, college educated workers to travel far from home. I would predict that blue collar, high school educated workers to bounce around the Rust Belt in search of relatively better economic conditions. I wouldn't guess California as a destination. Is that migration an outlier? If normal, is it unique to Pittsburgh? I find myself always disaggregating the numbers to reveal the more interesting findings.


Tim Wheeler said...

Thank you, Jim, for your blog on John Wojcik's article about Steeler Nation. And thanks for caring about Pittsburgh and its people! Pittsburgh is one of my favorite cities. Back in the mid-60s, a friend took me on the funicula up to the bluff at sunset with a spectacular view up the Mon and Allegheny valleys. The steel mills were still working then and the fiery glow lit up both valleys. Not anymore. Thanks again.
Tim & Joyce Wheeler
Sequim, WA

Jim Russell said...


Thanks for taking the time to comment and the kind words. Are you a non-native who appreciates Pittsburgh? I fit that description and I'm curious if there are other outsiders Pittsburgh has seduced.

Miss S. said...

I come from a blue collar family and I opted for Florida. I don't about the notion of staying close to home. When you have nothing or little to lose, you can just pack all your stuff in your car and keep driving until you find a place that you like (that is EXACTLY what I did btw!). White-collar workers rely on things like their career and a network to determine their course in life. Of course there are always exceptions though!