I remember my first Pitt game as a kid. The energy of the crowd at the old Pitt Stadium, the intensity of the game… I could feel the hatred for PSU grow inside of my 11yr old frame as the Panthers shut out the Nittany Lions. It was at that moment I knew I was going to, and did end up at, Pitt.
Once the rivalry ended in 2000 my emotions towards Penn State diminished and even after the renewal this year kicking off with Pitt’s upset 42-39 win, I find getting worked up over anything sports related as humorous (unless it’s the Flyers. God I hate Philly.)
Twenty nine years later I’m taking my boys to their first Pitt football game but at Heinz Field and for the last game of the season against Syracuse. Not really a big rival, in fact the stadium was barely 1/2 full, but they’re small enough that this would be a good environment to test the waters. Wait. Did I just say that? *UGH* I’m becoming THAT parent.
We were invited with friends of ours to the game which had the added perk of going out on the field for pre-game. Yeah, kids first game and they get on the field. We watched warmups, I explained to my boys the story of fellow Erie native James Conner fighting back from Hodgkin lymphoma to become a top draft prospect and how on Sunday the Steelers play here.
Teaspoon: “Will Big Ben (Roethlisberger) be here?”
Teaspoon: “Oh, well maybe he’s tailgating with Uncle Bob?”
Me: “Good chance.”
Teaspoon: “Yeah I bet he likes a lot of burgers and dogs.”
First impressions of a Pitt game by the boys:
- Those girls dancing look cold. They should wear jackets or they’ll miss school
- Why are there ketchup bottleeeeeOMG THEY POUR KETCHUP ON THE SCOREBOARD!
- PANTHER HAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT!!!!!! (see below)
- (while in the bathroom) OMG YOU PEE IN A BATH TUB!
- “We need more popcorn!” as the bottomless bucket was refilled twice
- LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE DRUMS! – Cheeseburger. “What? No guitars? How can you have a band without guitars?” – Teaspoon
The temps at game time were a balmy 35 degrees and didn’t change for the rest of the day.
We made it until Halftime before finally caving and heading back with Pitt leading 35-21 and little did we know the scoring blitz wasn’t over. By the end of the game Pitt would win 76-61. You’re reading that correctly. SEVENTY SIX TO SIXTY ONE!
The boys asked if we could come back for more games next season so it looks like I’ll be busy on Stub Hub (seriously, tickets on the 50 are sometimes $6-$10) next season. Attention span is short at their age so making it until half time is a good milestone for us.