With the Phillies returning to the World Series this fall…
…and the Eagles with a robust and respectable 8-1 record in the NFL..
… lots of national sportswriters are taking it upon themselves to educate those not in the know about what they think Philadelphia sports fans are like.
And explain why they seem so angry.
That’s all bull.
Never believe anything stated in an article describing “Philadelphia Sports Fans“, because obviously they are not from Philly and are therefore jealous of just how awesome a fanbase it really is. They just disguise it with petty comments about how mean the fans are and how they even booed Santa, as if the writers went to a cool party and got denied admission.
Let me give you the real, legit lowdown, starting with the fact:
The city is called Philly. Dead giveaway #1.
DG # 2: we have a collectively wry, snarky sense of gallows humor. Keep that at the forefront of your mind as you read:
Philly residents have perpetually had a chip on their shoulder since the late 1700’s.
This was when the young American nation had the audacity to move the nation’s capital from The City of Brotherly Love to some swamp just west of Baltimore. New York City got all the attention, power resided in Washington DC, and Baltimore and Philly became afterthoughts along the rail line between the two cities.
So: Philly residents started getting an attitude of: “Fine then. Screw those cities, we gotta protect our castle, this is OUR home, our kingdom, we are gonna do things our way.” This coincided with lots of Italians and Irish immigrants coming to Philly who already had the mindset of, “screw everyone else, I’m gonna make my own way in this world.”
That stubbornness to work your ass off, to reap the rewards mixed in with the mentality of “who needs DC or New York, those losers…” created a general regional disdain for perceived wussies and non-locals.
By the time 1900 rolls around, you’ve already had a few generations come and go in the region, who appreciate hard work and making something of your life with your hands. To include many former slaves, seeking a fresh start outside of the South, in the closest and largest Northern city to the former Confederacy.
Sports becomes more prevalent in society as a way to escape the daily grind.
The city actually had numerous baseball clubs throughout the city, dating back to the early 1800’s. The exposure to this early style of baseball was already commonplace by the later 1800’s, when baseball started to become more organized with leagues and rule modifications. By 1900 the city had two major professional baseball teams within the city limits:
The Phillies in one professional league,
and The Athletics in another.
And they both proved to be really…. lousy.
Well, at first, only the Phils were horrid. The A’s were actually pretty good for a few decades. Then the ownership went to pot because Connie Mack’s family had zero business sense to continue to run that organization.
So by the time the A’s began their trek to Oakland via Kansas City in the 1950’s, Philly just shrugged. It was not the soul-sapping Armageddon Brooklyn Dodgers fans felt at all when they made the move to LA.
The Phillies are the epitome of underdog losers. They’ve existed as a Major League team for nearly 150 years now, and they’re perpetually under .500.
There have been maybe 30 good years of genuine good play from the team, with 120 of loserness. This World Series trek in 2022 is only the eighth time the team has even gone to the World Series in 130 years. They’ve only won it twice. (For perspective, the Non-Local Yankees have WON twenty-seven.)
That’s a lot of time for fans to become quite jaded and sullen and have to accept mediocrity. And in turn, a LOT of time to perfect that mentality and personality into an artform.
So yeah, there were many, many decades of these hard working immigrants and laborers paying to watch games in Philly, and getting annoyed that they paid money to watch athletes not do their best. This does not sit well with the crowds, and they make their feelings evident.
By booing the home team. A lot. And loudly.
They collectively thought that the ‘tough love’ would encourage the athletes to play better!
Yeaaaa, that was a big “nope.”
But guess what? It sure proved to be a heck of a lot of fun to talk about how lousy they were!
Communal wallowing provided sustenance, and the ballpark was a convenient venting venue. And yet, the fans still went. Because the fans knew if the players would just listen to them already, sheesh, it would pay off. The teams were the perpetual child that could never quite live up to their parents expectations.
But the parents still loved them to pieces, hoping someday, somehow, the team would make the city proud.
By the 1920s, a new professional sport started making headway: Football.
Soon enough, the Eagles emerged as Philly’s representative team in this newfangled football league. The Philly baseball fans branch out and find an early Eagles team that wound up being … not as lousy, with occasional winning streaks to keep the fanbase appeased.
Same attitude. Same fans.
The Athletics leaving town in the 50’s essentially made things easier for the sports fans to focus their efforts on the remaining teams.
Philly has had a lengthy professional basketball history dating back to 1900.
The Warriors were the first team for the city within one of the rapidly organized basketball leagues in the 1940’s, only to be sold and relocated to San Francisco and become the Golden State Warriors. So Philly wrangled an existing team from Syracuse, relocated them and rebranded them as the 76er’s in the early 1960’s. Shortly after the Sixers arrival, NHL Hockey came to Philly in the form of the Flyers.
Already being a major sports town with a healthy, robust, and vocal fan pool, the sports fans happily embraced more major professional sports teams, that demanded the same amount of tough, ‘gritty’ love – nay, encouraged it.
Which brings us to my mom…
(to be continued…)
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