Point Park Globe

Sports play a role for Pittsburghers to come together

Written By Jordan Slobodinsky, Opinions Editor

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In response to the Squirrel Hill shooting, I’ve seen a lot of people come together. I’m sure people may not want to hear about the Tree of Life tragedy anymore – it is certainly a gruesome topic. Let’s chat about something that has given me some perspective these past few weeks: sports.

I am not talking about stats or rivalries; I’m talking about sportsmanship. The day of the shooting, I went to the Pitt vs. Duke football game at Heinz Field. Attendance for a Pitt game is never high, and it was especially low that day due to some people fearing for security purposes. As I took my seat, the speakers were blaring pump up music as the Panthers took the field. The few thousand people there erupted in cheer, and of course they booed when the Blue Devils came out. 

Before the game, there was a moment of silence for the victims of the attack and I have never heard a stadium so quiet. It actually brought tears to my eyers. 

Throughout last week, I decided to pay a little extra attention to the Penguins and Steelers games. Each one of course followed with a moment of silence. To my surprise, the silence didn’t stop at Heinz Field and PPG Paints Arena, it extended to Vancouver and Baltimore. Both the Vancouver Canucks and the Baltimore Ravens held a pre-game moment of silence and promoted banners of “We Stand with Pittsburgh.” This really showed that the game is bigger than the score.

Despite what some may think, sports has a huge impact on our lives. We idolize athletes, train for competition and celebrate when teams win. Fans often get into heated debates about games or players and they try to decide who is better than who. This city is no different than any other sports town when it comes to how it affects us. The Steelers, Penguins, Panthers and Pirates, all play a major role in how this city reacts to
situations. 

Despite the tragedy, we as citizens in Pittsburgh found some solace in the fact that Pitt beat Duke and the Penguins beat the Canucks that Saturday, while the Steelers defeated the Browns the next day. Those were victories I believe the city needed. I do firmly believe the heart and soul of this city is not only in its hard workers, but in its sports. People love these teams.

How many times do you walk down Wood Street and see someone wearing black and gold for their team? How many times do your eyes glance at the custom Steelers, Penguins and Pirates shirts that are for sale right beside the library? Even if you haven’t done any of this, have you ever been to the Strip District? That place is plastered with Pittsburgh sports pride. 

I come from a small town where there is not really any sports pride. The only thing anyone cares about sports-wise is Penn State sports, and we don’t even live in Happy Valley. So when I see a city with a genuine love for sports, it astounds me. This city puts so much of its heart into its sports, and I love seeing the passion that can sprout from this love.

Obviously sports do not solve everything, and I don’t expect simple sporting victories to make everyone feel as though nothing happened. But this city and this country are in a state of turmoil. We are constantly at each other’s necks about politics. Sometimes we need to see athletes show some real sportsmanship to remind us that not all rivalries have to be bitter. I’m sure that not all the Steelers and Ravens like each other, but the organizations still came together and acknowledged their unity when Baltimore said they stood with
Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh fans will look to their teams for support in times of disarray and, honestly, these teams love this city. Regardless of what this city faces, the sports will keep our hopes high. Other cities and teams have voiced their support for this city, and that means a lot to me as a fan. I hate playing the Ravens, but I respect their team so much for having showed their support publicly this past Sunday. The world has shown their support for Pittsburgh, and sports are giving us the hope that some of us lost that day.

Sports cannot defeat hate. That argument cannot be made and should never be made. Sports are a form of entertainment that is supposed to help us relax and encourage competition. What sports can do is promote sportsmanship and bring together people from different corners of the world. It can give us peace of mind after times of turmoil. But most importantly it gives up hope. It gives us a sense of identity. We can identify with team colors or slogans. With all that being said we can thank Baltimore, Vancouver and the rest of the world for standing with Pittsburgh. 

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