Throughout the annals of American sports, the champion’s ticker tape parade has been a standard reward for hard-earned victory. The imagery is so thick that when you play the “word-association” game with, say “1990s Yankees”, it’s no surprise if confetti is the first thing you think of.
Well, that may all be changing now, with the city of Pittsburgh announcing preemptively that, should the Steelers win an NFL-record sixth Super Bowl, the city will not be hosting a championship parade in their honor.
According to Pittsburgh’s WPXI CHANNEL 11, the city has decided against another title celebration because of the unanticipated budget overruns it would cause, meaning that the Steel City is choosing to defend public services over jubilant Steelers fans.
That’s probably a smart move by mayor Luke Ravenstahl, but in the short run it’s a scary one to make. Consider just how mental Steelers fans are about their team. WPXI’s Alan Jennings talked to a number of disappointed Steelers fans about what they felt about the potential lack of a parade, and the open disappointment was about what you’d expect, considering the fact that the team’s 2006 victory parade drew some 250,000 fans to the city’s Golden Triangle neighborhood.
(Big Ben’s lone parade experience? It might be.)
Then again, and stop us if you think this is going so far, but could Pittsburgh officials be jinxing their team just be discussing celebration plans before the game? Surely this is a golden example of abject hubris, right? It’s understandable that Ravenstahl would want to set expectations low — if he’s not going to have a parade, it’s easier to weather that blow if you consciously start the process of disappointment early — but the very existence of this discussion has to be the ultimate motivator for the Cardinals.
Either way, having a champion go without a parade seems like a bit of a snowjob to the Steelers, if they were to win. And it begs the question of whether cities may begin to try to pass on the costs of teams’ celebratory needs onto the teams themselves. If this has all been an exercise in Pittsburgh angling to get the Rooney family to pick up the ticker tape check, something tells us it’s not going to work.