It’s Sept. 29, 2018. I make my way, with cheesesteak in hand, to the upper deck of Citizens Bank Park. I find my seat, sit down, take a bite, look around at my surroundings and reach a grim realization; I am the only Atlanta Braves fan for three sections.
Such is the life of a fan of any sports team but the Phillies, Eagles, 76ers or Flyers in Philadelphia. It is a lonely, dystopian and hostile livelihood, at least when they play your team. Oftentimes when you say you are a fan of most other teams, the first reaction, besides momentary disgust, is asking why not a Philly team.
For the record, I’m not just a Braves fan because they were good this year. I grew up loving them, they’ve been my favorite team literally since I knew what a baseball was. The point of this is that I have a deep-rooted hatred of the Phillies. I only say this because I know the feeling has been mutual since I said I was a Braves fan in the first place.
However, there’s a good reason it’s so scary to be a fan of any opposing team in Philadelphia. The fans here have a reputation, to say the least. This is the city where fans cheered when Cowboys legend Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending injury mid-game. This is where fans stormed the streets, flipped cars and climbed light poles after WINNING the Super Bowl. Philadelphia might be the only city where businesses are warned there may be riots after a team actually wins a title.
So, what does this all mean? Your fans are loud, hostile and oftentimes scary from the eyes of “the enemy.” Yet, that’s not the whole story. Nowadays the stereotypes are overblown and it’s getting a bit old. That’s coming from a Braves fan.
Sure, there were incidents back in the day but it’s 2018. Times have indeed changed. Instead of brawling in the stands with Redskins super-fan Chief Zee, the worst thing you see is fans dressed as actual Eagles chasing a Vikings fan around a parking lot outside Lincoln Financial Field.
Colin Cowherd says that 76ers fans are obnoxious and not well meaning, but that’s just not fair.
I was able to walk around Citizens Bank Park on a Saturday night, in an Atlanta Braves jersey and didn’t get stoned to death or burned at the stake. Sure, people made jokes and said they were sorry to my girlfriend for being with a Braves fan but that’s nothing people don’t deal with everywhere.
The truth is this: Philly fans are as passionate and loyal as any fans in American sports. You have dealt with decades of struggle and bad teams and ‘next year’ but you’ve taken it in stride. You never stopped going to games, never stopped supporting the teams and finally, have been able to reap the rewards.
In 2008, the Phillies won a World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. They made it to the Fall Classic again the next year. And in 2018, the Eagles finally won a Super Bowl. The fans went crazy and even though I feared for my life a little bit, I couldn’t help but feel good for you all. You had waited a long time for that, you deserved to tear things up a little bit.
I realize that this still doesn’t mean much. Even though I do respect you, you are still the other team and correct me if I’m wrong, I am still ‘the enemy’ here. That said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.