Boselovic on a Roll

Len Boselovic has a great column this morning:
[Paul] Allen's abiding interest in technology and culture is a reflection of Seattle just as much as Mr. Rooney's commitment to faith, family and hard work are a measure of Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the very things that built a successful NFL franchise in Pittsburgh may not be the basis for a sound economy in the region.

Mr. Rooney's reluctance to change -- even when fickle, feckless fans wanted Mr. Cowher fired after last year's loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game -- is inspiring. His decision was based on the confidence that Mr. Cowher was the right person for the job, a judgment vindicated by this year's amazing run to the Super Bowl. The Steelers' persistence in relying on the ground game, a strategy implemented with innovative flair in recent weeks, is also a reflection of that confidence in tradition.

Mr. Rooney's reluctance to change is based on a belief that the Steelers have the qualified personnel and sound game plan necessary to get the job done.

Pittsburgh's reluctance to change is based on a fear of change rather than confidence in our elected officials, economic development minions and business leaders. In so many ways, the old isn't working any more, no matter how desperately they embrace it.

Jobs grew at a 3.5 percent pace in Seattle last year. In Pittsburgh, they are forecast to grow 1 percent this year, which would mark the regional economy's best showing in five years.

If the Steelers had a record like that, we'd be marching in the streets calling for Mr. Cowher's head. Why isn't there the same sense of outrage over the economy?

The answer, I think, is that the Steelers are far more tangible expression of the region's collective identity than "the local economy" is. "The local economy" doesn't have a color scheme or a theme song or a logo, and it certainly doesn't have an owner, or a coach, or a quarterback. As citizens of the region, "the Steelers" are fodder for appropriation into our own personal identities in a way that "the local economy" can never be.


4 Responses to "Boselovic on a Roll"

Amos_thePokerCat said... 2/06/2006 5:32 PM

The Steelers are a substitute for pride in the local economy. Now that they *finally* won five, can we start cutting taxes, improving the business environment, and having the city concentrate on fundamentals instead of smoke, and mirrors?

There is a reason why there are so many Steeler bars in other cities, and fans at away games.

B said... 2/06/2006 6:13 PM

Yes, I've had to explain to many people why there are so many Steelers fans everywhere given the size of the city. A lot of us had to move away.

I can't believe nobody makes this a more poignant theme in elections - do you want your friends and your children to move away? Oh, no, I forgot, they can stay and work at the casino.

Mike Madison said... 2/06/2006 6:14 PM

And it's not, I take it, because people in other cities, states, and countries so envy Pittsburgh that they want to emulate us?

Amos_thePokerCat said... 2/06/2006 7:22 PM

Ohh, I like that idea.

As a sign of solidarity with PIT, other cities can unilateraly divest themselves of their largest employer, and require 300K people to leave, impose a 3% income tax on those that stay, and only elect a new mayor once every 12 years, but he will have to ask "mother may I?" for his budgets from a state oversight board.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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