Family, location factor in for fans of Pittsburgh or Cleveland teams


Whether it’s Pittsburgh, Cleveland or even San Francisco, fans represent their favorite teams throughout the United States. But what is their reasoning? Joe Catullo has the story.

In Youngstown, fans root for numerous teams all over the country, but fans around the blue-collar town generally pick Cleveland or Pittsburgh.

Adam Earnheardt, a Department of Communication chair associate professor, studies these behaviors and says family bonds tie a fan with a team.

It’s that kind of connection, and so you’re not just making a connection psychologically to that sports team. You’re making a connection to that family, that way of life, that bond you shared with that family member

Earnheardt also says sports fans can relate with one another.

That idea of being a sports fan then kind of transcends the family bonds and kind of morphs into like the social connection beyond what we have with our family.

Family bond does not factor into Caty Moran’s mentality. She likes the Steelers because she loves the city and a few specific players.

I grew to like the Steelers on my own. Everyone in my household is a Browns fan.

Eric Grishow, on the other hand, says family factored in.

The Browns – because my family is a, all Browns fans. I loved them.

Social psychologist Rick Fry grew up in a small town in Iowa, and says he believes location factors in, the same reason he loves the Iowa Hawkeyes. Fry first worked at Youngstown State University 35 years ago and follows the Penguins as well.

I can understand how people develop an affiliation or an infinity for a given team in the sense that if you live in a community and the news is about that team and people talk about that team, it’s seems quite natural.

When it comes to football, the Browns and Steelers stand as the biggest names in Youngstown. Earnheardt says the fan-ship between the rivals splits down the middle.

This area really helps to amplify it because we are right here, you know, an hour and a half away from Cleveland and an hour and a half away from Pittsburgh. I mean this is right in the middle. It’s kind of a fantastic experience.

No question Cleveland and Pittsburgh showcase a common rivalry, but not in baseball, basketball or hockey. Earnheardt says the Browns and Steelers competing in the same division makes a difference while the Indians and Pirates contend in different leagues.

In the National Basketball Association, the Cavaliers represent Cleveland while Pittsburgh does not have a team along with hockey as the Penguins represent Pittsburgh and Cleveland denotes nobody.

Earnheardt says he loves the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins and Cavaliers.

When I grew up in Pittsburgh, we didn’t really have a professional basketball team to cheer for, so I adopted the Cavaliers as my favorite team, right?

When Earheardt attended his first Cavaliers game, he says he knew right away what fans recognize as the biggest rivalry. Cleveland wanted the fans to boo the opposing team that night and posted a Steelers symbol. Earnheardt says he didn’t know what to do.

I can’t boo I’m a Steelers fan. Am I supposed to cheer? You know, so that was interesting, but they never flashed a Pirates signal or a Pirates sign, the Pirates symbol. And they never flashed a Pittsburgh Penguins symbol, right?

Everybody has a choice in what team he or she wants to follow. In Youngstown, Cleveland and Pittsburgh represent location and family choice.

Reporting for, I’m Joe Catullo.