sports

What To Say To Boys And Young Men About Big Ben, Continued

Jackson Katz at The Huffington Post sees Sunday’s Super Bowl as a “teachable moment” for parents with impressionable young kids who may be aware that Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has twice been accused of sexaul assault. He compiles a list of talking points that parents, coaches and mentors can use, such as “Your actions affect others,” “Leadership in sports means leadership on and off the field,” and “Men who mistreat women verbally, physically or sexually are never proving their strength or manliness.”

These are all important talking points. We do not mean to downplay them whatsoever when we say that Jackson Katz missed the most important one of all: “Do not allow your sons and daughters to grow up and become Steelers fans.”

Pittsburgh Steelers fans are the most obnoxious people on earth. I (Ben) have lived among them. Many are good friends who have no glaring defects or shortcomings. What decent and honorable people they may be by day, however, is outweighed and overshadowed when game time starts and they turn into a cocky, boorish, mullet-loving mass of insufferable hooligans who revere yellow towels like little Shrouds of Turin.

Fans of the organization — even some unbiased commentators — cite its “class” and “professionalism.” This is bull. The Steelers, like Big Ben himself, operate on loutish machismo and borderline thuggery. To the Steelers franchise and its repugnant fan base: While I take some solace in the fact you put the insufferable Jets in their place two weeks ago, I cannot tell you how dearly I hope Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers crush you in Dallas on Sunday. Because if they do not, we will never hear the end of such NFL “legends” as Hines Ward and why he is deserving of beatification by the Pope or some such nonsense.

Steelers fans, I wrote you a letter after Super Bowl XXXIII. The thought that you might be celebrating another championship just two years later fills me with disgust. But know this: No matter how many Super Bowls you might win; no matter how many Defensive Player of the Year awards Troy Polamalu racks up or how many inane Head & Shoulders commercials he shoots; no matter how many anger management classes James Harrison takes and how many headhunting cheap shots he continues to deliver; no matter what the outcome of Sunday’s game and what it will or won’t add to the great Steelers “legacy”; I will not allow my son to grow up and become a Steelers fan.

I won’t allow him to become a Bengals fan either, but this is beside the point.

You can have your Super Bowl trophies, Rooney family; what you will never get is a Vore in black and gold.

(Pirate black and gold, though similar in appearance, is both a much sadder and yet more dignified hue. It can at least be worn without shame.)

Go Packers.

x

(Though he barely mentions the Steelers, Rick Reilly gives you more reasons to root for the Pack.)

(The Onion provides its characteristic insight into Sunday’s match-up with breakdowns of Big Ben (“Weaknesses: Getting people to like him”), Hines Ward (“considered a role model next to James Harrison”) and James Harrison (“good at murder”).)

(Finally, Benjamin Wallace-Wells explains how “Ben Roethlisberger Personifies Every Crisis Facing The NFL.” Subtitle: “Is The NFL For Cavemen, Or Against Them?”)

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9 thoughts on “What To Say To Boys And Young Men About Big Ben, Continued

  1. Bravo. Well said.

    And just to add to what Rick Reilly said: You root for the Packers because they’re the only team in the NFL–or any professional sport–that’s owned by their fans and run as a non-profit organization. Fat cat owners will talk a good game about how new stadiums that tax payers foot the bill for will bring a big return to the community, but the place that’s really true is in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where the concession stands are run for the benefit of local charities to the tune of about $400,000 (as of the mid-90s) and (numbers from the same era), a $60 million economic benefit to the city. That ownership structure is also WHY the Green Bay Packers will never be The Baltimore Packers. If one were to choose to be the fan of a football team, one could not do better than to choose the Packers. Honestly, I don’t know what streak of irrationality keeps me anywhere near the Cincinnati Bengals, except that it’s hard to deny the weight of one’s personal history. The Packers, though, have for several years been my second team.

  2. Ben- I actually re-read your prior post about Steelers fans the other day. I still find it hilarious and well written. They say that the ability to laugh at yourself is a good character trait (I don’t know who ‘they’ is), and I apply this to my Steeler fandom. I love them. I’ve been wearing black and gold all week, I will make the same meal, and wear the same clothes that haven’t been washed since the beginning of the playoffs on Sunday. I will be nervous all day, and will yell at the TV during the game, sincerely believing that my words and actions are part of our victory. Your wife actually got to witness my boorish behavior first hand in our victory over Baltimore. And while I’d generally say I’m a fairly polite, nice person I can’t help it. I love my Steelers and my terrible towel and will continue to wave it proudly while shouting profanity at the TV on Sunday.
    I do take offense at your James Harrison “good at murder” description. He’s not Ray Lewis.

  3. Bravo Voreblog! Bravo!

    As a new father of a son I can not over emphasize how strongly I feel about my son not being a Steelers fan. It can not and will not be tolerated. Which leads me to a rather large philosophical question… do you pick your sports team or does your sports team pick you?

    I am a Bengals fan. I do not feel as though I chose this life nor do I feel like I can choose to not be a Bengals fan. It is who I am and who I have been since I can remember. My dad is not a Bengals fan, my mom is not either, my brothers don’t know the difference between a football and hockey puck. And yet here I sit the fan of the worst franchise in professional sports history. So what happens to my son? Do the Bengals choose him? Or does he overcome and get to choose his own path, a path lined with championships and happiness? Only time will tell.

  4. Matt- if the team chooses your so, what happens if the Steelers choose him? do you disown him? refuse to pay for college? Don’t worry I’ve got an extra terrible towel to wrap him in on Sunday. Ange is bringing the stromboli.

  5. Embo – I do everything in my power to prevent it and then, once he is 18, he gets to make his own decisions. But like all things (and as stated so well in the above article) he needs to realize that his actions affect others and his inheritance.

    I will gladly take your terrible towel to help with diaper changes.

  6. Emily,
    Victory on Sunday certainly hinges on your pre-game preparation. All this claptrap about offensive schemes and defensive adjustments is hogwash. Your execution on the fundamentals — your carefully chosen wardrobe; the pre-game meal; the exact enunciations of the various curses and epithets you shout at the TV on Sunday — will determine the outcome far more than anyone on the actual field of play. You will either be the hero or the goat. No pressure or anything.

    Matt,
    Should Sam ever contemplate a life of Steeler fandom, I don’t know what I would do. It may never come to that though. Erin is determined he will prefer only “European” sports and detest any sport not named soccer, cricket, track or Winter Wipeout.

    1. Ben,

      Since when did track become European? I figured Ben Johnson ended Europe’s run of tack dominance. I have started Nathaniel on an intense training regiment to dominate Minute to Win It. I will show that Guy Fieri his frosted tips aren’t the only thing that are money.

      ps On your recommendation I watched an episode of Winter Wipeout. It fulfills everything I want and need out of TV. Including bringing John Henson back into my life.

      1. I’ll leave Erin to answer the question of why track is European. Perhaps it’s enough to say that track is not football, basketball, baseball or hockey. If it involves your hands, Erin gets leery.

        (Glad you enjoyed “Winter Wipeout.” There sure were some good crashes this week, huh!)

  7. Thank you Voreblog for this educational post! I recently decided to be a non-Steelers fan and have used facts from your blog to help me back up my new decision! It’s fun to be a non-fan!

    Since when is Winter Wipeout a ‘European Sport’? I believe the idea came from the TV Show Most Extreme Challenge that started somewhere in Asia…

    Happy Superbowl watching voreblog! I’m going to watch it in my Steelers shirt with a big red ‘X’ through it…

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