As a Pittsburgh Resident, I Couldn’t Care Less about the Stanley Cup
A sincere congrats to the city of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Penguins who just won their fourth Stanley Cup last night. I love the energy in this city when one of its three professional teams wins a big game. Everyone is so happy and friendly. There’s a lot of “woooh!”s and “go Pens!” or Steelers or Pirates, and a lot of hi-fiving between people who appear to be complete strangers. It’s the best. No city supports its sports like Pittsburgh. Well, except for Cleveland, who I’m pretty sure loves their sports team more than any other city in the world.
I’m not from Cleveland. I’m from Mansfield. Mansfield is a smaller city an hour south of Cleveland via I-71. But in Northeast Ohio, we all root for the Cleveland teams because those are the closest professional teams. Cleveland is the closest hub for anything major. When people say there’s nothing to do in Cleveland, I be thinking they buggin’ because there was so little going on where I lived, we went to Cleveland to have fun. Cleveland was where the action was, and still is. I love Cleveland. And Cleveland loves Cleveland like Kanye loves Kanye.
Pittsburgh rages for all things black and yellow, as they should. But is it really that hard to love your city’s pro sports when collectively, they’ve won four national championships in the last decade? Four! Everyone here 11 years old and up has been to at least four championship parades. And for the record, Pittsburgh professional teams have won 15 titles total, which is mind-blowing to this Ohio native. As much as I love Pittsburgh for embracing me, the Stanley Cup coming here means little to me because 1) y’all have seen this before, and 2) I have my own city’s pride to worry about. Stuff is crazy back home; it kills me that I’m not around.
Where I’m from, the pro teams haven’t won a championship in over 50 years. The Cleveland Cavaliers, my dear Cavs, have never won a championship. And we still love and support all the squads. Northeast Ohio’s love for its teams is unparalleled because we love teams that haven’t won in our lifetime. There’s no bandwagon here. Btw, I want to address something real quick… we grew up with Lebron, he’s Akron’s own, and I can’t speak for Cleveland folk, but in Mansfield and Akron, our loyalty is to him as much as it is any team, and we want to see him win wherever he’s at. We love it just to see one of us make it. Check yourself before you check us for rocking that Heat #6 two years ago.
In Ohio, there’s no “oh, you just like the Cavs/Browns/Indians because they won the chip”. It’s much harder to love teams who time and time again break your heart into a million pieces in the most humiliating way possible. I don’t need to get into it because The History is well documented. I just watched ESPN’s 30 for 30, Believeland, the other night and teared up at the end. Each year we lose, and each year it’s ‘next year’. We’re too loyal, and our faith is undying. We’ll never stop believing. We still believe even when we’re down 3–1 in the NBA Finals, and coming back to win would be the first time it’s ever happened in history.
Game 5 of the Finals is tonight, and the Cavs are up against a juggernaut that just went 73–9 in the regular season, breaking the record set by the greatest team in NBA history, Michael Jordan’s 95-96 Bulls. A Cavs win tonight won’t be easy but a Cavs win tonight means more to me than the Pens championship win last night. And the Cavs would still have two more games to win before (even the thought of it so crazy, I had to pause while typing) Cleveland gets its first ring in 50 years.
Once again we’re oh-so-close to victory, so close I can see it. It’s crazy how we could be so close so many times, and still come up short. All we want is a trophy and a parade, and to know that we can do it too. Because that feeling is something I desperately want to experience at least once in my lifetime, I will never hate on those who do get to experience it.
Party it up, Pittsburgh, and even though you’ve been through this championship thing a lot, don’t take it for granted. There are some of us who have no idea what it feels like to see our city win. On that note, Cleveland, don’t take your teams for granted, because the cities around y’all have nothing to call their own.
As invested as I am (which is not a lot compared to most), I don’t really care about sports that much. I know there’s more to life. As serious as all this is, it’s not that serious (but it is). Sports are a pastime. Sports also inspire, and unite people, whom if it weren’t for sports, may hate each other. Sports encourage and give confidence. Don’t underestimate how important it is for people who have nothing to see that the impossible can be done.
The Cavs winning their first ring in franchise history, in that kid from Akron’s second year back, after being down 3–1 to this Warriors team who beat us last year, is impossible only to people who believe in impossible. I don’t have the luxury of believing in impossible. Where we’re from, when you believe in impossible, you become a statistic. We know anything is possible because we’ve already beat the odds so many times. The Cavs winning just proves us right and lets more people know to hold on because their day is coming. If this year isn’t our year, then the next one will be. If the next one isn’t than the next one is. I believe in believing.