Thursday, September 10, 2009
A couple months ago there were some thoughtful comments from the diaspora on the meaning of sports, the Steelers and Pittsburgh. See this blog post.
It reminds me of something that has always been curious to me. The implosion in steel jobs was something that came to a head in the early 1980's. The first 4 superbowls were won between 1972 and 1980. The mythos of the rabid Steeler fans supporting the team while the economy collapsed around them is missing something in the timing. For sure, there were some bad times in the 70's. Two national recessions in the 70's were having big impacts here, but there were also periods when the region was faring better than the nation . It was a boom.bust cycle that what pretty common for Pittsburgh because the national business cycle had always been magnified here. So looking at the economy back then through the prism of the 1970's, there was no vast economic collapse going on... certainly there was no appreciation for what was to come. The real miasma that would get the region to move past denial was years in the future.
So as Steelers fans were rooting for victories in Superbowls 9, 10, 13, and 14, the idea that the steel industry was permanently collapsing in the region was just not conceivable. Steelers Nation did not exist yet in part because the diaspora that fuels it had begun. We are still stuck with the branding that America's Team (cough) was the moniker given to the Dallas Coyboys in 1979. It was only after that run of Superbowl victories ended, when the regional economy did collapse, that migration out of the region accelerated... then the folks leaving were likely to have Terrible Towels packed with their other valuables in the moving vans as they left town.