Members of the Pittsburgh Passion team are on the final stretch of their quest to cap an undefeated season with a shot at the National Women's Football Association title Saturday.
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While most teams, especially those in a football hotbed like Southwestern Pennsylvania, acquire respect from the moment they step onto the field, the Passion has had to earn it over the past five seasons.
That long process comes to a peak this weekend in the championship contest in Nashville, Tenn., where they will face off against the Columbus Comets.
Their success is reflected in the numbers. The Passion led the NWFA in attendance in 2004 with an average of 2,500 to 3,000 fans per game. Those numbers were about the same this season and spiked in the playoffs with approximately 4,000 fans attending the Passion's 49-15 victory against the Cleveland Fusion in the Northern Conference championship game July 7 at Cupples Field on the South Side.