Life as a Steelers Fan: A lesson in empathy

Christopher Dacanay
Sports Editor

As a student at Franciscan University, you, the reader, are now a temporary resident of Steubenville. As a member of this community, you are called to love and serve the Steubenville natives, your brothers and sisters in Christ who put up with us students as their neighbors.

In order to more fully love the Steubenville natives, one must seek to love and appreciate the things they love. Connect with them emotionally through what they invest their time and energy into.

One essential way to do this is by loving the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Having spent the majority of my life in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, I have considered myself a staunch Steelers fan for as long as I can remember.

Now, I attend school approximately 45 minutes from my hometown. Steubenville, as I have learned, is included with Pittsburgh in the PA–OH–WV Combined Statistical Area, according to the United States census website. Statistically and geographically, Pittsburgh and Steubenville are really close.

That closeness is even more true culturally. Both areas saw booming success from the steel industry along the Ohio River (and the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers). That connection has made many Steubenville residents fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Why would a Steubenville native cheer on the Cincinnati Bengals or the Cleveland Browns, teams representing cities that are distant in regards to location, history and ethos?

As a Pittsburgh native and current Steubenville resident, please allow me to show you what being a Steelers fan implies.

I bleed black and yellow. Schoolchildren in western Pennsylvania stand for the national anthem. This is immediately followed by the playing of “Black and Yellow,” performed by Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa, who attended Taylor Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill.

The Steelers fight song, “Here We Go!” is constantly playing on loop in my subconscious. Every once in a while, I sing it out loud and am sickened when no one else knows what the heck I’m talking about.

My clothes are sewn from the threads of recycled Terrible Towels. Speaking of Terrible Towels, I own 34 and a half, the half being a bandana.

I am culturally obliged to approach anyone wearing Steelers gear and to inquire with them about our shared fanaticism. Conversations like this are especially interesting when held on campus because the question I always end up including is “Wait, are you from Pittsburgh?”

Most often, the individual is not from Pittsburgh, the best city in the United States — in the entire world, even. However, the bond between Steelers fans is stronger than, well, steel. Neither where someone is from, nor their gender nor their ethnicity can tear Steelers fans apart.

The Steelers themselves also hold a special place in my heart. For example, I was raised seeing car dealership commercials on television that included familiar faces from the turf telling us why we should buy a Toyota Camry from some dude in a cowboy hat.

This one time, Ben Roethlisberger stepped on a sidewalk that I stepped on five months later. I’ve eaten a deep-fried cheeseburger at Jerome Bettis’ restaurant before it closed.

I once spotted Hines Ward with his mom while they were eating at a Red Lobster. Also, Troy Polamalu was the midwife at my birth.

The Steelers themselves are wonderful, clearly, but how is their record?

We need not mention the incident on Jan. 16. Frankly, anyone who brings up the results of that match is living in the past and is just a fun-hating negative Nancy.

A Steelers fan on campus (who shall remain anonymous, although his name rhymes with “Batthew Billenheft”), when asked about the game, said, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

He continued, “Mason Rudolph is not our guy.”

We mustn’t dwell on unfavorable outcomes that have befallen our beloved Steelers. Rather, we should think of the positives and virtues the Steelers represent: respect, fellowship, strength and Heinz ketchup.

Football is more than just a sport, and the Steelers are more than just a team — they’re an ideal. In a utopia, there would be only one team, and their helmets would have three diamonds on them.

Let’s recall that this is an article about empathy. Next time you’re out and about in Steubenville, strike up a conversation with your convenience store clerk or auto mechanic.

Don’t just ignore the people around you or look to them only for the services they provide. Interact with them; make them feel human.

Next time, ask him or her how those Steelers are looking. Depending on the last game’s results, the person may think you are teasing them. Regardless, the Steelers are always looking like a million bucks, or maybe I’m just biased.