A tough choice for Steelers fans

February 2, 2013
Sandi Kern, a Game Day Gear store employee at Washington Crown Center, stands in front of a mat she displays in her house proclaiming “a house divided.” Kern, of East Washington, is a Baltimore native and a Ravens fan, but somehow manages to get along with her husband, a Steelers fan. Kern said she and her husband will be watching the Super Bowl together. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The color purple makes most Steelers fans see red. Today, the Steelers die hards must sit through a Super Bowl without their team and instead watch the hated Baltimore Ravens take the field.

Hearts that usually pump black and gold will have to make a choice between AFC North Division rival Baltimore and the San Francisco 49ers, an NFC team seeking a sixth Super Bowl championship that would tie Pittsburgh’s record. The teams are coached by brothers John and Jim Harbaugh.

For Washington resident Ron Humphreys, deciding for whom to root wasn’t a hard decision.

“I hate the Ravens, the Patriots, the Browns – any team but the Steelers,” Humphreys said. “They’re not going to win. San Francisco will pull it out. I know that for sure.”

Humphreys said he has waved the Terrible Towel all his life, but shares his daily workspace with a Ravens fan.

“I catch a lot of flak for wearing my Flacco,” said Sandi Kern, decked out in her purple jersey.

Kern works with Humphreys at the Game Day Gear store at Washington Crown Center that is full of Pittsburgh sports teams’ paraphernalia. Customers entering the store shoot looks of confusion or distaste at the one purple jersey in the sea of black and gold.

Kern, of East Washington, identifies she and her husband, Fred Kern, as a “mixed couple.” She is a Ravens fan; he a Steelers fan. Although she is counting down the minutes to the Super Bowl, she still supports her husband’s team when it is game day.

“I’m a good hometown girl. I root for the Steelers and all, just not when they’re playing my team, “ Kern said.

Kern will host a Super Bowl party at her house amid a mix of Steelers pillows and purple candles. Guests will enter while crossing over a mat that reads “A house divided” with a line down the middle separating the Ravens and Steelers logos.

Even though the Ravens will be fighting for only their second ring, that won’t stop Canonsburg’s Mike Cannon from watching the game. He said even though the pairings aren’t what he’d prefer, as a football fan he can’t resist watching.

“I gotta go with San Francisco. I can’t bring myself to root for the Ravens,” Cannon said. “I just can’t do it.”

Washington’s Karen Miller is a Steelers fan, but will root for the Ravens.

Steelers fans might think this is sacreligious, but to Miller it’s the smarter choice.

“I don’t like the Ravens. I’ll still watch the game, but I’ll have to root for the Ravens,” Miller said. “It’s the lesser evil I’m taking.”

Miller chose the Ravens because she would rather root for an enemy than lose the crown for the most Super Bowl rings.

Since most residents in Washington and Greene counties are Steelers fans, Kerns has learned that being a Baltimore fan can be hard and wearing a Ravens jersey to the supermarket can result in cold stares and harsh comments.

“Living here in Washington, Pa., is living in the heart of enemy territory,” Kern said.

Katie Roupe has been shooting photos and writing for the Observer-Reporter since November 2011. She’s previously been published in the Auburn Citizen, Chautaquan Daily, Altoona Mirror and Daily Kent Stater. She graduated from Kent State University with a degree in visual journalism.

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