There's a great story on the Chartiers Valley Patch website today about what's happening at St. Clair Hospital, where the staff is wrapping newborns in Terrible Towels and Steeler knit hats. It's just another example of what this yellow piece of cloth means in unifying the people of this region, and even to a sometimes-cynical person like myself, I think it's pretty cool. Of course, there's another side to the Terrible Towel coin, as we've seen this week.
As you know by now, Fanhouse's Clay Travis wrote a desperate attention-grab of a story ripping the Towel this week in a story that's been linked from coast to coast and eventually resulting in an interview with WTAE. That's where Travis proceeded to pile on and question the actual value of the Towel's charity effects on the city. Good times:
"The proceeds is a good thing. I don't know anyone who has an issue with money going to charity," Travis said. "Now, is it that substantial an amount of charity? I mean, every year, they give less to charity than they pay the worst Steeler football player, so it's not like this is some multimillion-dollar-every-year industry that's changing the face of Pittsburgh. I mean, it's a little bit of money. It's better than not anything. But it's not like it's a seismic difference in the overall scope of the city."When Ingram noted that the towel has generated more than $3 million for charity, Travis responded, "Over 15 years, though. What is that -- $200,000 a year? I'm just saying they pay the worst Steeler over $300,000 a year, so the worst player on the Steeler football team makes more money than the Terrible Towel has ever given back to the city."
The Terrible Towel is something that's near and dear to the hearts of Pittsburghers. They take towels with them on vacation around the globe, they take them to war, they take them to space, they make music videos about them, they wrap babies in them, they wave them after they win first star in an NHL game. Anytime you crack the invisible barrier that makes something so meaningful and personal to so many people from a region, yeah, they're going to be defensive when you "disrespect" it.
Is it silly to give so much emotional value to a towel? Not really, because it's more about the symbol than the cloth. Why is that so difficult to comprehend? By insulting the towel, you're insulting Pittsburgh, whether the offending party realizes it or not. Pittsburghers are a proud group of people with a very limited tolerance for cheap shots at their town. Apparently that's lost on Clay Travis. And TJ Houshmandzadeh. And Keith Bulluck. And so on and so on. But it will never be lost on me, and I'll always be proud to say I'm a Pittsburgher, whether they like it or not.