This is the best sports town in our country.
I have been to all major ones and many of the smaller ones.
Pittsburgh --- and maybe I'm biased because I'm from here and love this place --- is the best sports town in this land.
It isn't so much the way we celebrate wins. Heck, anyone can be happy when their teams win, anyone can throw a parade down the main drag after a championship. That's the easy part. Pop some bottles, play some songs and throw some tickertape around --- anyone can do that.
No, it's the way we let losses linger with us that separates Pittsburgh from the rest.
It ruins our day, it crushes our existence; the losses have a way here in Pittsburgh of temporarily squashing our sense of worth. The defeats don't just hurt on the surface or force superficial wounds; instead, they gouge us to the very core. The losses make us positively hate the hometown teams for a small span of time, but we inevitably come crawling back to root for them.
Francisco Cabrera did that to us.
Larry Brown --- with the help of Neil O'Donnell --- did that to us on football's most grand stage.
Barry Goheen and Scotty Reynolds did that to us.
Henrik Zetterberg --- as that puck somehow tricked in off Marc-Andre Fleury's backside --- did that to us.
Do your part Friday night to not let this happen again. Do as much as you can do, at least. Don't you owe it to yourself?
Certainly games are won and lost on the playing surfaces, and I'm also rarely the person who advises fans how to act when they plop down their hard-earned scratch for a ticket, but it really is time to do as much as you can on Friday night inside the Consol Energy Center.
This will be a prime opportunity to shed a reputation that the place makes a morgue sound loud, that the rink is full of sit-on-your-hands, white-collar country club types.
That's right, it's time do something about it because seemingly every Pittsburgher --- myself included --- likes to tell people at every turn how great this sports town is.
Wouldn't it be nice, just for once, to walk out of the Consol Energy Center and feel like the crowd made a difference?
Wouldn't it be nice, just for once, to not have to be prompted by a great a play or wonderful bit of action before you cheered inside that place?
Wouldn't it be nice, just for once, to create a hell of an atmosphere for the hometown hockey club? Especially in this, a game that amounts to a playoff game.
And it circles back to this for me: No one beats their chests or thumps with pride quite like Pittsburghers. We're proud of this place and we don't care to tell you about it over and over again.
That said, how proud are you of the home building advantage --- even through all those sellouts --- that you've created for the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center?
Is there truly one?
Does the opposition ever mention that it is a tough place to play?
If so, I rarely, if ever, hear it.
In what should have amounted to the ultimate insult, not long ago after a(nother) win for the Flyers inside the Consol, Philadelphia coach Craig Berube fired a deep dart.
"I wish we had more games here," he said.
What an insult, what an affront to what should be something that's a given --- a hometown advantage in that building.
But as many in the hockey world will have their eyes turned to Pittsburgh on Friday night for the game against the Islanders, as the Penguins' playoff chase has become one of the most intriguing storylines in the NHL, the citizens of this great town --- and more to the point people who have tickets --- have a real chance to make that building jump in a huge game.
Are Penguins fans going to show they are great fans?
Or are they just going to talk about how great they are?
Guess we'll see on Friday.
I sure hope, on a night the Penguins need as much energy as possible, it's the former.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 "The Fan." You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.
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