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The Influence of Professional Sports in Pittsburgh

            What seems to be simultaneously, in nothing but an instant, 60,000 boisterous voices begin a (loud) familiar chant. "Here we go, Steelers, here we go!" It is Heinz Field in downtown Pittsburgh-- better known as "Blitzburgh" to football diehards-- Heinz Field, in the midst of a gameplay moment of wringing suspense: to the team's rabid fans, a moment of epic proportions. The Steelers are on offense against the Dallas Cowboys (bitter rivals since the Superbowl upset of 1996), down by three, with time enough to squeeze in one more miracle play before the buzzer sounds the end of the fourth quarter. Twenty yards separate the offense from the winning touchdown. The crowd's incessant chanting grows continually, attempting to squealch the deafening tick of each passing second as the clock approaches "00:00." The precious seconds pass as the players stoop into their positions. The snap is good, and quarterback Tommy Maddox drops back for a long pass to wide receiver Plaxico Burress. The crowd breaks its chant with wild cries of excitement and suspense as the buzzer sounds, the ball left spiraling through wide open air, headed for the arms of a feverishly running Burress. Ball and player connect at the seven-yard line; Burress juggles it a bit, gains control, and plows through two groping Cowboys to spike the ball in the Steelers" endzone. 60,000 voices scream with unbridled joy, all of them unified by the single cause, and celebration, of victory. Within minutes, as the happy fans file out of the stadium wearing jackets, scarves and smiles, still cheering and chatting, they walk past representatives of Project Bundle-Up, who are collecting money to supply needy Pittsburgh children with winter clothing. The fans, elated by the win and always willing to help, deposit their left-over hot-dog-and-nacho change in the bins, and filter into the parking lots for some post-game tailgating.

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