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Old 01-26-2009, 06:45 AM   #1
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Default Steelers lift sprits in hard times

Steelers lift sprits in hard times
By Frances Borsodi Zajac , Herald-Standard
The Steelers are our heroes!

Let's face it: the economy is bad. People are losing their jobs. Everyone is anxious. But the Pittsburgh Steelers are making most of us feel better, and that's a good thing.

"In these troubled times, the fact the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to the Super Bowl is a morale booster,'' said Dr. Ron Lobo of Chestnut Ridge Counseling Services in Uniontown. "It takes away the day-to-day stress and gives them something to look forward to. It's a good distraction and it gives them some hope.''

"It's hero identification,'' said Adam Sedlock, a licensed psychologist from Uniontown. "What happens to the individual, regardless of good or bad times, is that they identify with a hero. That's the Steelers in western Pennsylvania. You feel like you're a part of the team. It intensifies when times are bad. The worse people feel, the more intense the identification is. You relate to them better.''

People find heroes in all kinds of places, including not only the Steelers, but also the new president. It is nothing new and Sedlock pointed out that even before there was an Internet or television, people found heroes on the radio or in comic books. Superman became a hero to many people during the Great Depression.

What's amazing is that the Steelers have become heroes to so many people.

"When the Steelers went to the last Super Bowl, there were studies done on the idea of a Steelers nation,'' said Sedlock. "In the '70s, when they had done so well, there was a strong fan base. Then when the economy became worse in the '70s and '80s, the fan base dispersed.''

He explained that as western Pennsylvania residents moved to other parts of the country, they not only remained Steelers fans but also raised their children to be Steelers fans and converted their friends.

"Now the fan base is so large, it's one of the largest in NFL history,'' said Sedlock. "There are more people who identify with them. You'll see sales of Steelers memorabilia skyrocket.''

Sedlock said it is an odd coincidence that economic times were tough when the Steelers had those tremendous Super Bowl wins in the '70s and that as they go to the Super Bowl once more, they are tough times again.

"In the '70s, steel mills were closing. The economy was not doing well just like now. There's no steel mills closing now, but people are being laid off,'' said Sedlock.

And so people turn once again to the Steelers to lift their spirits.

Lobo said concentrating on the Steelers can keep people from being preoccupied with negative events and feeling depressed.

He also noted the Steelers can get people out of the house by going to Steelers parties or preparing to host their own.

"It bring friends together and there's a rekindling of friendships,'' said Lobo. "It also gives them support - someone to ask how are you doing. It can also be networking if you're unemployed. You can get contacts by being with people. And you can get outdoors as well. In the winter, more people are probably staying indoors.''

So it's OK to let your Steelers spirit show.

"Anything that makes them feel better in a socially accepted manner is good,'' said Sedlock. "In church, you'll hear ministers praying for the Steelers to win. It's good to have Steelers parties. It's good to wear black and gold. There's nothing wrong with that.''

Sedlock warned, however, there can be too much identification.

"If you have to work on Sunday, you may become depressed because you can't see the Steelers,'' he said. "You can go overboard. There are fans who drink and party too much and get in trouble. They use it as an excuse.''

But for the most part, wearing black and gold, attending Steelers pep rallies and going to Steelers parties is a good thing.

Sedlock said, "That will make you feel better and we all need to feel better in these bad economic times.''
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