Students prepare for Super Sunday

By Sergei Feldman

One of the most popular and nation-binding sporting events of the year is two away, but the… One of the most popular and nation-binding sporting events of the year is two away, but the campus-invading, black-and-gold supporting Pitt students have metaphorically ‘been there’ since the evening of Jan. 19. On that fateful (in the eyes of some) night, the Pittsburgh Steelers, with its modernized Steel Curtain, secured a spot in Super Bowl XLIII against the Arizona Cardinals with a 23-14 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Ever since, the party hasn’t stopped. ‘It’s been a two-week vacation,’ said recent Pitt graduate Mark Savannah. ‘With all the Super Bowl coverage and overall excitement around the city, it’s impossible for anything else to be a priority.’ Another recent graduate, Yan Kublo, wholeheartedly shares Savannah’s sentiments. ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to concentrate on anything else besides the game,’ said Kublo. ‘There’s a strange feeling around the city.’ The strange feeling around the city Kublo was unable to articulate is that of pride and tradition. Since the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Steelers consistently rank among the most popular and successful franchises in the National Football League. The team that dominated the decade by capturing four Vince Lombardi trophies has, and forever will, go down as one of the greatest teams in all of sports. The ripple effect of success permeates through the city in the hearts of its fans, known around the country as Steeler Nation. Being a Steelers fan means more than merely having something to do on Sunday or having something to talk about on Monday. Pittsburgh native and New York University graduate Graham Friedman, who will travel from ‘the city that never sleeps’ to his hometown just to watch the only game with Roman numerals attached to it, knows what it’s about. ‘[Being a Steelers fan] is a membership to one of the greatest and most expansive communities in the world,’ said Friedman. ‘It provides me with brothers and sisters anywhere I go and an all-pervasive rowdiness during the regular season.’ Pitt students understand first-hand the rowdiness Friedman referenced. In the aftermath of Super Bowl XL in 2005, where the Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks, Pitt’s campus turned into a student-filled sea of celebration in what has since been referred to as ‘The Oakland Riots.’ ‘It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life,’ recalled Kublo. ‘I’ve seen the Steelers fall short twice in AFC championship games, so [the win] and the passion and joy on people’s faces was just overwhelming.’ As for hitting the streets if the Steelers win, Friedman was all but introverted in his response. ‘I’m basing where I watch it off of potential street mania,’ said Friedman. The mania is already here, albeit in its fetal stages. And while excitement, energy and anxiety highlight the emotions around campus and the city, duplicating the emotions from 2005 will be difficult. Pitt sophomore Vladimir Lamm might be wearing his emotions on his sleeve, but the sleeve seems to be covered with a sweater. ‘It’s a different kind of excitement,’ said Lamm. ‘Last time, it’s been forever since the Steelers won. Now, it’s the second time around in four years. The excitement is just different.’ It’s important to note that Lamm is an admitted bandwagon fan. Senior Rahul Chakravarthy believes the lack of an underdog tag on the Steelers this year helps to explain the more-or-less ‘blah’ attitude, but nonetheless looks forward to cheering on the black-and-gold. Plans for the game are universal for the most part, with students watching the game in their rooms, a friend’s place or at a bar if spots are available. But for Friedman, whether it’s a home get-together or a night out at a sports bar, he knows one thing when it comes to preparing for a game. ‘It’s wearing as much black and gold as you can, holler at everyone you see wearing the same, and watch them Steel=ers do what they do,’ said Friedman.