Why it’s ‘Steelers Nation’

I root for the Steelers, not just one of them.

There are many Steelers fans across this nation and world, not just one fan. That great group of Steelers fans are known as Steelers Nation.

But it seems some of those fans need a grammar lesson. Over the last few weeks, there has been much debate on some blogs and throughout Twitter about whether we are known as Steelers Nation or Steeler Nation.

Let’s take a look at some facts:

  • The Steelers organization officially is known as the “Steelers.”
  • The Steelers organization officially recognizes its fans as “Steelers Nation.”

Let’s take a look at grammar:

  • The names of sports teams are treated as plurals. For example, it’s the New York Yankees, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

What does all of this mean? Any use of the word “Steeler” is incorrect. Period.

This isn’t my opinion. This is a fact. It is grammatically incorrect to call anybody or group of people a “Steeler.”

Ben Roethlisberger is the Steelers quarterback (note: Steelers is not possessive). Steelers coach Mike Tomlin came to Pittsburgh from the Vikings. My friend in Houston watches games at a Steelers bar.

This isn’t a matter of what you think is right. This is a matter of what is correct.

Yes, I heard the Rooneys and Tomlin say “Steeler Nation.” Doesn’t mean it’s correct. Doesn’t mean I dislike any of them for saying it.

I realize many folks do not understand how grammar works. I don’t get science. But the use of grammar and the English language are things I’ve spent a lot of time studying — not to mention I get paid to know it.

My next quest: Getting people to type “Super Bowl” and not “Superbowl.”

Wouldn’t you rather be a nation of many than a nation of one?

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6 thoughts on “Why it’s ‘Steelers Nation’

  1. doogle

    So you’re saying its correct to say “He’s a Steelers/Penguins/Pirates” or “I’m a Steelers/Penguins/Pirates” That doesnt sound right at all

  2. mindymin

    I disagree with you entirely on this one. Steelers Nation just sounds wonky, grammar rules be damned…

    BUT why wouldnt you make “Ben Roethlisberger is the Steelers quarterback (note: Steelers is not possessive). Steelers coach Mike Tomlin” these 2 uses possessive? It would be plural possessive, but possessive none the less. He is the Steelers’ QB. Tomlin is the Steelers’ coach so the Steelers technically possess both. I would think that it would fall under the same rules as some thing like peoples’ money or dogs’ leashes.

    More to the point if grammar possession rules regarding sports names do not apply why should the rules of plural apply when referencing Steeler or Steelers Nation? and I dont say “Im going to the Steelers game” I say “I am going to the Steeler game”. I also dont watch the game in a Steelers bar, I watch it in a Steeler Bar. Using the technically plural version of the word just sounds wrong and very yinzer-ish.

    Gotta agree w Doug here…saying the plural is the ONLY correct way seems wrong, there are instances where the singular makes more sense to use and sounds correct.

    And if you want to get REALLY technical shouldnt it be Steelers’ Nation in that Steeler Fans possess all of the nation?

    The rules of grammar are full of exceptions, especially in the english language…thats all Im saying.

  3. bobbo Post author

    In Doug’s example, you would say, “Ben Roethlisberger is a Steelers player.” There is no singular version of the form as sports teams are plural.

    As for the possessive issue, no, the there would be no possession on nation. Why? The “nation” is not owned by the fans, it is a collective group of fans. The word “Steelers” describes what the group is made up of — Steelers fans. Therefore known as Steelers Nation.

    It’s like Presidents Day. There is no apostrophe in Presidents Day. None. I know you’ll disagree, but it’s officially Presidents Day, despite few truly knowing or understanding it.

    It is a day to honor many presidents. It is not a day FOR presidents. Though, the federal government doesn’t even acknowledge Presidents Day. It technically is known as Washington’s Birthday.

    The grammar rule is similar to Veterans Day, the officially recognized title of that day of observance.

    And saying that something just looks right or sounds right is an incredibly simplistic thought. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong and you’ll sound incredibly stupid by using it incorrectly.

    I know understanding language and grammar isn’t common among folks, but it is something I’ve spent a great deal of time doing.

    I also realize people will continue to disregard grammar rules, but it’s mostly because folks don’t educate themselves on what is proper. They’d sooner just speak and think they know what they’re talking about.

  4. Meghan

    I think in most cases you’re right. Only place I disagree is that you’re trying to say the team and members of it are the same thing. You say the steelers organization is officially known as the steelers. By not specifying “and all memers included within” or something like that, they’re not giving us a rule for what to call members. I think that’s up to interpretation. Also, that citation example says “names of sports TEAMS” are treated as plural.

    It’s silly to say that “he was a Steeler” is wrong. There’s no basis for that and it’s making grammar difficult just for the sake of it. Because that’s what English grammar is always trying to do, not make any sense! :p

    I didn’t study journalism and I have no clue where my APA style guide is to check. Correct me if I’m way off base!

  5. doogle

    I checked with both of our writers, whom also make a living at writing and have had books published. You say “Steeler” when speaking of the singular and Steelers when speaking of a group or organization and because the Trib doesnt want you to say Steeler doesn’t mean its correct.

    I am a Colonial, not a Colonials
    I am a Pirate, not a Pirates
    I am a Panther, not a Panthers.
    I am a Marine, not a Marines.

    You are not plural, you is singular. You proved that above and the links I posted from the Trib show the same.

    You are correct in saying “Ben Roethlisberger is a Steelers player.” But if Ben was speaking he would say “I am a Steeler” which is correct as is “I am a member of the Steelers” Ben saying “I am a Steelers” would be incorrect.

    “And saying that something just looks right or sounds right is an incredibly simplistic thought. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong and you’ll sound incredibly stupid by using it incorrectly.”

    In that case, to yourself, you are incredibly stupid and simplistic.

    “I also realize people will continue to disregard grammar rules, but it’s mostly because folks don’t educate themselves on what is proper. They’d sooner just speak and think they know what they’re talking about.”

    Pot, meet kettle. n’at

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