Jun 11, 2010

Fans, Bandwagons & Switch-hitters

Breakaway…he shoots, and…SCORE! 

That’s what I was hoping to hear when I watched the Flyers go into overtime during the Stanley Cup Game 6 on Wednesday night… Instead, I watched in utter confusion as Leighton, (our goaltender) stayed bended on one knee.

Is he hurt I wondered? It appeared that the game was still going on. Then I noticed that he hadn’t got up because the far shot, made in passing, had gone into the net. Chicago scored the winning goal in overtime and just like that the game was over.

It happened so quickly that I didn’t even see it go in. The sports bar fell silent as we Philadelphia Fans watched in horror as the Stanley Cup was being ripped away.... Silent that is, until someone yelled out…

Our goaltender sucks!”

The man who uttered these words was dripping in Flyers paraphernalia. He had on a Flyers hat and T-shirt. He probably had those team flags flying from his vehicle.

I hoped that he was a bandwagon fan. Someone who stood in line at Models after the Fly-guys won the play-offs, to buy his first orange shirt. Maybe… or maybe he was just a typical “Philadelphia Fan.“

Either way, I shouted back at him… sometimes I just can’t keep my mouth shut.

“Leighton doesn’t suck, it was a close game the whole time you asshole! What kind of fan are you?”

In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have yelled at a strange, intoxicated man, upset about the outcome of a sports game in open forum. But hey, I was pissed they lost too and even more pissed about the switch-hitting fans who so quickly jumped ship.

The man never said anything back to me. He was either too drunk to acknowledge my comment or actually saw my point. That…

  • A. He actually is an asshole for wearing the T-shirt of a team he is now attacking OR
  • B. That both teams were an equal match-up that played a terrific series and thus why the game was so close. (It was probably the former.)

The following day I had dinner with my grandpop and I asked him about the illusive “Philadelphia Fans.” We are one of the ONLY stadium/arena’s in the country that have a holding cell inside the premises. We will boo off our favorite singer or player at the drop of a hat. We are a “tough” crowd.

Pop you grew up in the city, what’s the deal with the Philly fans not supporting their teams?”

He just shrugged, “That’s the way Philly fans are that’s all.”

I of course, was not at all satisfied with this answer. “What do you mean that’s just the way they are, that doesn’t sound like an excuse?”

My grandfather was annoyed that I wasn’t accepting his answer at face value. “Listen Lana, You know who Joe DiMaggio is right?”

“Yes Pop,”  I was afraid this conversation was about to take a turn to “appreciate your heritage hour”. Luckily I was wrong.

My grandfather continued.  “Well, when he came to Philadelphia in 1941 he was up to bat and hit his 56th hitting streak record, and you think that the fans would have cheered for the fella, but they didn’t. Not even the Italians…they all booed him because he was a Yankee. He set a record, but Philly didn’t care…its just the way they are.”  He returned to his soup and left it at that.

But this got me thinking…maybe we Philadelphia Fans aren’t just boisterous, drunken asses (although that guy at the sports bar was). But, maybe we are just die-hard fans who get so involved in the game that we cannot hide our emotions? (Yes, some are just drunken band-wagon fans) but I say…and to that I say if don’t know what a cross-check, hand pass, icing, a hat-trick or cherry picking is… then don’t shout an opinion at the television.

For those of us who are REAL fans… we watch these games and we are so involved that we easily get carried away. Like all things in life, where there is a big investment, there is the risk of big disappointment.

Regardless, we let ourselves get wrapped up. We bleed Green. We proudly wail out the Eagles Fight song. We are the Orange and the Black. We scream “Hey Ref You Suck” at the end of the chicken dance, as if it were the God-given lyrics. (That’s right 210A!!) We believe in sports miracles because our Phighting Phils and Chase Utley reminds us that we are “World Champions, World Fucking Champions!”

So, yes, despite our tough-guy brotherly love physique—We love our sports teams!

But with love comes vulnerability. So when the outcome doesn’t go our way, we feel personally jarred. We wanted so badly to be the exception to “The Rule.” To watch in awe and be a witness to “the stuff that movies are made of.”

What we forget is that the exception to” The Rule” is just that…an exception. It is a rare case, an extraordinary scenario, when something bizarre goes against “The Rule.” The fluke accidents, mishaps and denial of all odds are “the stuff movies are made of.” But these things only happen once in rare while.

Yea, Yea, we know this…but us Philly Fans watch these games with high hopes, big hearts and heightened emotions. Like children we sit wide-eyed in front of the television secretly keeping our fingers crossed, in hopes that this night, this time, could be the exception!

Sports are one reprieve in life where we can allow ourselves to be lost in the fog of unrealistic hope. The idea of “The Rule” can drift away, and the belief in the exception takes precedence. All logic is lost and nothing matters but the game. Anything can happen!

Sports is a rare situation where luck and timing are just as import as training and skill.

We Philadelphia fans recognize this unique opportunity that a sporting event presents. A time where if we just keep faith alive then maybe…

Yes, this scenario can cause us to be calling each other assholes in a bar (Guilty as charged) but at least we can say we’re passionate right? At least we can say it was in the name of love, because despite our disgruntled opinions we love our teams. I mean “We’re Philly Fan’s, it’s just the way we are.” {Enter innocent unexplainable shrug}


Philadelphia fans are a tough crowd, but it’s only because we care so much about our teams. That’s why we’re quick to praise and wear our teams name with pride. This is also why we’re so quick to call out “asshole” in open forum and probably the reason why we have a holding cell in our stadiums.

But hey, it’s a complicated relationship we have with our teams. Like family…we can say what we want, but don’t dare anyone else contribute to our rant.

So those of us supporting The City of Brotherly love are passionate, we cannot deny that; but maybe we could work on showing the actual love a little more?


We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. -Vince Lombardi
“Being a sports fan is a complex matter, in part irrational, but not unworthy; a relief from the seriousness of the real world, with its unending pressures and often grave obligations.” - Richard Gilman quotes