Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Steeler Nation Israel

I mentioned on Monday that my blog is going to be heavy on Pittsburgh Steelers content over the next few weeks. That happens when the team that you love advances to the biggest single game in the United States. But what about other countries? Daniel Sass is the founder of the Steeler Nation Israel page on Facebook, so I thought I would check-in with him about being a Steeler fan abroad.

How did you become a Steeler fan? Are you from the United States or have you always lived in Israel?

I was born in Pittsburgh in 1966. While I only lasted in Pittsburgh for 2 years, I was raised a Pirate/Steeler/Penguin fan. My earliest memories of the Steelers was their 1971 season (in which they had losing record).

I moved to Israel in 2002 (from Portland, OR).

Where do you watch Steelers games?

Fortunately [the] NFL has excellent coverage in Israel. There are weeks during the season that we have more games broadcast here than many cities in the States. ESPN, FOX Sports, and METV (a Christian station that pioneered showing NFL in Israel years ago), all broadcast NFL games. Last weeks AFC Championship game was actually broadcast simultaneously on two of these channels (ESPN & METV).

I have a video production company in the City of Efrat (a suburb of Jerusalem). I film and produce videos for Weddings, Bar/t Mitzvahs, etc. Years ago I converted the living room of my studio into a Steeler 'Man Cave' complete with Pool Table, big screen TV and probably the largest collection of Steeler memorabilia in the Middle East (including four chairs from Three Rivers Stadium). This is where we watch the games.

Do you know of Steelers bars in Israel?

As far as I know (and I did investigate) there are none.

Do you dread Sunday and Monday night games? They must start in the middle of the night for you!

NBA & MLB are kind of tough to follow closely because of the number of games played annually. But the NFL only has a 16 week season, so it is worth the investment of staying up all night to watch the games. It doesn't hurt that I am a night owl.

Since the Pittsburgh Pirates are never shown nationally in the United States, do they ever air Pittsburgh Pirates games there?

ESPN has the game of the week and the Pirates show up on TV a couple of times a year, but not more than that.

Tell us about the Steeler National Israel group.

This group has only become official recently, but there are an inordinate amount of people from Pittsburgh who now reside in Israel. AND it seems that EVERYBODY from Pittsburgh is a diehard Steeler fan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lived in the Philadelphia area for much of his childhood and spent a significant amount of time in Boston at Harvard and MIT. He later was Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. Based on all of this, if Netanyahu is a football fan, he probably supports either the Eagles or Patriots with a slim possibility of the Giants or Jets. This is a very odd way of prefacing this question, but are there any famous Steelers fans in Israel?

ABSOLUTELY . . . in my tiny little community there is a religious lady named Varda Epstein. You couldn't tell that she is a Steeler fan until you watch a game with her. She has one of the Three Rivers seats reserved for watching the games. Her uncle is (was) Myron Cope. It's a tiny little world.

Any Myron Cope stories from his niece?

You should ask her yourself. Her name is Varda Epstein and she is in the Steeler Nation - Israel group. (Sean’s Note: Maybe I will)

Finally, any predictions for the Super Bowl?

I know that the Pack is favored by 3, but I honestly believe that the Steelers will win by 10. They are post-season proven and I think Ben will prove again that the bigger the game the bigger he plays. Plus the Defense will do what they have been doing all season. Final score: Steelers 27 - Packers 17

Thanks to Daniel for agreeing to answer my silly questions. It's nice to get the perspective of how Steelers fans live abroad. In addition, thanks to Daniel for providing pictures of his man cave. I included a few more below. I'm extremely jealous of the Three Rivers Stadium seats. Don't forget to check out (and even join) the Steeler Nation Israel group.


Anonymous said...

Hate to say it but I'm a ravens fan. Sorry! But that isn't what I've come here for. Next year I'll be in Israel for the year and I'm sad to be missing all of my Ravens games. I wanted to get more information about how I'll be able to watch the games, if I'll be able to while I'm there. Thanks so much! Get back when you can!

Sean said...

Anonymous - I encourage you to contact Daniel of Steeler Nation Israel through the Facebook page linked at the top of this blog post. He should be a great resource.