The Pittsburgh Steelers since the days of Bill Cowher has emerged as a force to be reckoned with every single season in the NFL. Steeler Nation has always been strong throughout the world, but has certainly seen exponential growth over the last two decades. Dominating defense, a savvy offense, passionate players and coaches – all of these get fans riled up and in a frenzy for that next Super Bowl Championship. Yet somehow, as the narrative shifts from one of dominance to one of ‘rebuilding’ for a team that has gone 8-8 in consecutive seasons, fans throughout the entire NFL (and even our own brothers and sisters of the Black & Gold) have begun to hit those who are upset at the current state of things with a rather damning buzz word.
That word stings. It reminds me of some bratty kid kicking and stomping his feet on the ground because mommy and daddy only promised a week at Disney World instead of two weeks. Actually it’s worse than that, it makes me think of a kid who throws a tantrum because he wanted a piece of chocolate and the parent refuses to give one. It’s petty. It’s a word that is reserved for the baseless masses who are ungrateful and lack the empathy for those who are ‘without.’ The word spoiled is used by our rivals and by general fans, usually to help them feel better about themselves and cope with their own jealousy in cheering for a team that pales in comparison to the traditions of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve even seen it used by some members of Steeler Nation (even some who read NPC) to describe those of us out there who aren’t quite happy with the current state of the team.
Since when does the tradition of being a very successful football program and its fans having a passion for winning turn into being a bunch of spoiled silver spooned brats? I have an answer to that: IT DOESN’T.
Let’s get some things straight. As a football fan and more specifically a Steelers fan, I am therefore a consumer within this business. I purchase tickets, satellite packages, t-shirts, hats, memorabilia, plane tickets, food, beer – all in the name of becoming a civilian participant within this sport. I lay down my hard earned cash to do so. I expect the money I contribute to the team I love the most and cheer for the loudest to yield results that are enjoyable – in other words, winning.
The Steelers’ goal every season is to go out there and win. Win the big games. Win the small games. Win enough games to make the playoffs. Win all of those to make it to the Super Bowl. And finally, win the Super Bowl. The Steelers have figured out ways to be fairly consistent with the first few and are sometimes good enough to make the latter two happen. Their goal is not to get blown out by teams they (on paper) should defeat. Their goal is to not be so inconsistent with their productivity that every game is a surprise as to what kind of team will show up on the football field. Their goal is to win. And, as a consumer and fan, I share that same goal. I want them to win. So why is it that when they don’t win, or rather when they continually bring mediocrity to the field that causes them to lose, for two consecutive seasons I am deemed as a spoiled fan?
That’s the important thing to grasp too. Mediocrity. It’s not like myself or others who are upset are crying about a one point game and blame everything on the refs. There’s a larger theme at stake, and it threatens the value of my team – and therefore, threatens my ability to be a good consumer. Going 8-8 for two seasons is a threat to the tradition I love so much. Don’t tell me I’m spoiled.
Let’s just say that going 8-8 is like doing something only 50% right. Now ask yourself this: If I were at a restaurant and my server gets my order only 50% right and that 50% of the order is only cooked 50% of the way it should be, does that make me spoiled that I expect good service and good food from those that are supplying it to me as a consumer? Silly me for expecting fries on top of my Primanti and holding the E-coli or mold. If I’m flying on a plane and the pilot flies the plane well only 50% of the time, does that make me spoiled that my expectation is that my $400 plane ticket paid for as smooth and as safe enough flight as possible? I guess you can answer that question after they are done trying to find all my body parts scattered about the ground.
Being a Steelers fan. Being a fan of any sport in general. Being a consumer of a product and having expectations does not make a person spoiled. It makes them passionate for results.
1992-2011. 20 seasons. 219-127-1 record. 2 Super Bowl Wins. 4 AFC Championships. 17 playoff wins. 14 post season appearances. Dominating defenses. Smash mouth offenses. THAT’S a tradition of winning. THAT’S nothing to feel spoiled over. That’s something to be proud of.
So don’t give me your “You Steelers fans are just spoiled from all your success over the years” B.S. You’re damn right the Steelers have attained much success over the last 20 years. And, I’m damn proud of it. And, I expect nothing less.
It’s not spoiled. It’s passion. I’m not some Cleveland Browns fan who would be happy to see what might lie on the other side of 7-9 for a change. I’m not some Cincinnati Bengals fan who just accepts and walks away after their team goes three straight playoff ‘one and dones’. I’m not some Baltimore Ravens fan who thinks the signing of Joe Flacco is a great move because I’ve been starving for any validation to call my team ‘elite.’ Do you know why those other fans of the North feel that way? It’s because of the last 20 years of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now THAT’S something to be proud of.