Today, I went to the Pitt-Penn State football game. The last time I saw Penn State in action was also the last Pitt-Penn State game, also in Pittsburgh, way back in 2000. It was and I am quite different this time.
Today, two jagoffs Pitt fan did things that I find reprehensible. About 1.5 hours before kickoff, I was walking down West General Robinson Street with a ton of others. All of a sudden, when I was nearly at Art Rooney Way, some a-hole in a Pitt shirt cross-checked my shoulder so hard, I spun slightly and dropped my water bottle. I was stunned. But being the middle of a fast-moving crowd, I picked up my water bottle and continued on. There is no way he could have accidentally done it. He just looked straight ahead right after and kept going. After I recovered, I could not help wondering what kind of a person does something like that to a complete stranger, a woman especially, presumably just because I had a Penn State hat on. I guess I will never know. But I feel sorry for his girlfriend/wife, if he has one. Ten hours later and my shoulder still hurts. I am mostly glad the hubs was not there, because when I told him about it, he said had he been there, he would have leveled the guy and then probably ended up in jail. My shoulder will recover. My memory won't fade too quickly.
The other instance happened when I got to my heavily-dominated Pitt fan section. Some guy behind me looked right at me and shouted, "F_ck you!" I said, "Hey, I am a Pitt fan too." He repeated his profanity. I then asked him if he kissed his mother with that mouth, and he said it a third time. Throughout the game, I listened to him refer to Penn State as F__ing homos. He said F-U to the Penn State fans who came late and cheered. Basically he was a profane arse every time Penn State did something good. I am surprised people (all Pitt fans) who brought their children were okay with it
Since I was in Heinz Field, which is Pitt's house, and because I am a decent human being who is not equating this game with life and death or curing cancer I kept pretty quiet. I stood up a few times and/or I clapped when Penn State had a good play or scored usually rather reservedly. I never cheered loudly. I never bragged or got in anyone's face. I just wanted to enjoy the game. The guy next to me repeatedly said he felt sorry for me that my team was going to lose. He said other various negative things. But he never cussed at me. He never touched me. Sure it was annoying, but I will take that over the other crap I went through. And, unfortunately, when Penn State came within 3 points and was close to scoring again in the final few minutes, I left my section. Fortunately, I was in the club level, so I could watch the rest of the game on my choice of dozens of TVs in air-conditioned comfort. I just knew I did not want to be there for the ending if Penn State pulled it off. I was 95 percent certain I would have had stuff thrown at me or at least been the victim of a verbal tirade.
But here's the thing: Unlike too many others, I don't paint people with a broad brush. There are jagoffs everywhere and in every category. Young and old. Male and female. Black and white. Gay and straight. Christian and Muslim. Pittsburgher and Clevelander. Penguins fans and Flyers fans (mostly in the latter category here). And, yes, there are plenty of Penn State fans who are douche canoes. Pitt fans may not outnumber them. After all, I am a Pitt fan. :-)
If I do go back for the game in 2018, I don't think I would risk wearing a Penn State hat again, sadly. But I won't let today's unfortunate instances mar my experience. It really was a great day. I got to meet and talk to many nice Pitt fans. I saw/heard the Blue Band play just outside of Heinz Field. I caught the last 30 minutes of the Alumni Association tailgate and sang "Fight On State" and the Alma Mater. And I got to take my picture with Mike the Mailman! He even hugged me!
But most of all, today and all those idiots who kept saying "Joe knew" and "Ped State" and "Penn State sucks" reminded me of something important: I am proud to be a Penn Stater. Penn State forever. We are Penn State!