For honestly the first quarter of my life... I was not a sports fan. I was a Majorette for our high school (it was cool, I swear... Sonni Abatta was a Majorette, ok?) but when my mom picked me up after the football games I would seriously ask her who won. And.... ok... my dad was a coach for our high school football team, too. Black sheep of the family. In our house everyone would watch the Steelers and Pens games downstairs and I would watch MTV upstairs.
But really, not a big sports fan, not a big deal, right? Yeah, not in Pittsburgh. Do you even know the magnitude of the exclusion you feel when you aren't a sports fan in Pittsburgh? It is seriously all that anyone talks about, reads about, broadcasts about, throws parties for, etc. etc. Just try to get anyone at work to discuss anything but sports on the Monday morning after a Steelers game. And that's great... it's one of the coolest traits of this city. But I revolted against it. I was always the one who voluntarily took the seat without a view of the tv when we went out for a game. And seriously, I tried. I bought a Steeler jersey to wear when we went to Hi Tops to watch a game. I cheered when everyone else cheered. But I think the problem stemmed from the fact that it wasn't that I didn't like sports... I just didn't understand them. I'm a pretty smart girl, but when you've avoided sports for the first 20 years of your life, it's a little hard to just "jump into it". You think it's easy, because you've been watching them your whole life. I'm still trying to figure out what all the ref's fancy hand choreography means.
And I tried to get people to explain it to me. But just try asking "What does that mean?" during a bad call in a playoff game and see how helpful people are. I got alot of aggravated arm waves and "Just watch!" No one wanted to take the time to explain things. Commercial breaks, intermissions and half times are for pee breaks and beer runs. Not for breaking down penalties and yardlines. You know what? I cheered for the freaking Pirates because I played township softball when I was 10 and I pretty much understood the rules of that game.
So when I first starting dating my boyfriend, I was a little wary of the fact that he was a huge Pens and Steelers fan. But since he is incredibly patient and kind, he was happy to take the time to explain things to me. And you know what? It turns out I like sports after all. I can finally join in conversations about sports. I can watch them in public and make comments that make sense. My friends and family are all shocked at the turnaround, but I'm happy to finally be part of this Pittsburgh Sports clique that unknowingly excludes all of those out there that just don't "get" sports.
So the next time you're at a Steelers Party and there's a girl there with a Steelers jersey on, and she's watching the crowd to make sure she cheers at the right times, but she's staring at the tv with a furrowed brow during the game...trying to figure out what the heck they're doing... take a second during a commercial and try to explain something. She might become a fan too.