Last night the Steelers played (and won) their final preseason game. The 2010 season officially begins next Thursday night in New Orleans (home of last year’s Super Bowl winners), and the Steelers play their first game on Sunday, September 12.
If you live in Pittsburgh, you probably already knew that, whether you love football or hate it. I used to hate it myself, although I doubt any of my current friends would believe me. And while I still wholly respect people who try the sport and just can’t get excited, I do feel all Pittsburghers owe it to themselves to try. If nothing else, it’s great for having small-talk at the ready, and will usually be relevant anywhere Yinzers congregate.
But I think this town’s love of its team goes deeper than that, and inspires a lot of real community goodwill. Roll your eyes all you want, but there’s something special about being a citizen of Steeler Nation. I have seen the most incongruous assortment of strangers striking up football-related conversations in the grocery store, on public transportation, and even at the doctor’s office. And you really haven’t lived until you’ve joined a Super Bowl celebration in the streets of your neighborhood. They are the strangest of riots, where everyone is overjoyed, (almost) nothing is vandalized, and the only traffic specifically came out to be disrupted. It’s actually kind of awe-inspiring. If you’re intrigued enough to find out what all the fuss is about, come down to the library, and we’ll show you around.
Don’t know the first thing? Grab the latest edition of The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Understanding Football. If you like a little humor with your learning, try The Armchair Quarterback Playbook: The Ultimate Guide to Watching Football. And if you’re interested in the business aspects of the game, we also have Football Fortunes: The Business, Organization, and Strategy of the NFL.
Catch up on team lore with Abby Mendelson’s Official Team History. Delve into more obscure stories with Last Team Standing: How the Steelers and the Eagles– “The Steagles”– Saved Pro Football During World War II. And if you’ve already heard that one, try Screamer: The Forgotten Voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers, described as “Joe Tucker’s broadcast history, adapted from his notes by his son Murray Tucker.”
For more about us crazy fans, check out Steeler Nation: A Pittsburgh Team, An American Phenomenon by Jim Wexell. And if you’re only able to stomach so much black and gold, and want a broader and more rounded understanding of the local culture, try The Paris of Appalachia: Pittsburgh in the Twenty-First Century by local author Brian O’Neill.
If you’re ready to become one of those fans, we can help you out. First, select some novelty music to impress your guests. Start with the classic Super Steelers Fight Song (which is based on the Pennsylvania Polka). Then familiarize yourself with all Ten Years of Here We Go: The Steelers Fight Song. Once you’ve got those under control, you can mix things up with We’re Number One: The Super Steeler Disco. Later in the year, you can add Christmas Carols for Pittsburgh Fans, by the Rabid Fans.
Then go for that authentic game-day flavor, with The Super Steeler Cookbook (which, incidentally, was produced by the Allegheny District Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in 1982) and The NFL Gameday Cookbook: 150 Recipes to Feed the Hungriest Fan From Preseason to the Super Bowl.
Of course, you’ll need something to keep you entertained the rest of the week. Let me introduce you to the Pittsburgh Football Fan Sudoku Puzzle Book. That’s right, we own a copy, but if you want to actually solve them you’ll have to get your own. We’re keeping this one for the ages, in our non-circulating local history collection.
And if you still need proof you don’t have to understand the game to have fun, there’s even a picture book – Here We Go, Steelers! Here We Go! (See, there is literally something Steelers-related for everyone.)
OK, so maybe you’ve tried, but you still don’t care about football. Good news! A non-football-watching friend of mine tells me you still have a reason to get excited – one afternoon a week for roughly five months, the city is your playground! There are no lines anywhere! Just make sure you know when this week’s game will be played, and plan accordingly. Imagine shopping in a practically empty store, or coming to the library and having your pick of parking spaces. That’s an excellent reason to appreciate the Steelers, even if you never watch them play.