What Makes a Philly Sports Fan?

Google the phrase “Philly fan” and prepare to be disgusted.

Among the top results are images of fat, shirtless drunks (one holding a sign that actually reads, “I’m a Moron”), an Urban Dictionary blurb describing a fan base “known for their brutality” and a ton of news articles recounting our various indiscretions (laser pointers, assault charges and car-flipping Phans, just to name a few).

Given this oh-so-flattering portrayal, it’s no surprise that the common sports fan has either heard or actually said “Philly fans are the worst” at one point in their spectating career. But we don’t care. I’ll let you in on the secret to Philadelphia happiness: when we see the videos or hear the overused examples, we can’t help but feel a sense of pride.

Stereotype #1: Philadelphia Fans are violent.
The most infamous stereotype of the City of Brotherly Love is the hate!

Thanks to the media (and a slew of commentators who downright abhor our teams), fans of the city are known for being violent, belligerent and often times unwilling to hide their disgust for a rival. I won’t lie; outsiders aren’t welcome here. If you’re a Mets fan traipsing down South Street, you will catch some shit. But do not mistake a bit of misplaced anger and drunkenness for murderous rage. People aren’t beaten down just for walking into the Linc with the wrong jersey. That kind of thing only happens in Bethlehem.

Sure, aggression occurs in the stadium. But, for the most part, it’s harmless. Actually, from the perspective of a fan like myself, it’s pretty hilarious. I was in a nearby section during the famous snowball attack on some unsuspecting 49ers fans, and although the people were pelted until they walked out of the stadium, it was more of an inconvenience than a brutual attack. In the Eagles’ fans defense, those 9ers fans were standing up and screaming in ecstasy after every Gore carry, enough to infuriate even the most docile Phanatic.

Stereotype #2: Philadelphia Fans are obnoxious.
Cross us and you will be booed ‘til it hurts.

I actually have little evidence to contradict this stereotype. There seems to be an overall jovial, brotherly, “screw ‘em” attitude in Philadelphia. When a ref makes an unfavorable call, boo him. When a rival team steps on the field, boo ‘em all. When an ex-player who screwed over the Phils tries to play a game in OUR stadium, boo him (and maybe throw D batteries at him). When McNabb gets drafted over Ricky Williams…boo McNabb! When Sarah Palin makes an appearance at a Flyers game, Boo her and her children!
It’s true that there is no reason to boo absolutely everything out of disapproval for what/who is on the field (such was the case during the Santa booing of ’68). But as fans, what else do we have? No other city loves their teams like Philadelphia, and we want to be involved in every decision. The Boo is our voice. The Boo is our answer.

Stereotype #3: Philadelphia fans are hecklers.
Do you kiss your mother wit that mouth?

No other sports town is involved like Philadelphia. And no other sports town can exchange verbal beatings like our own. Back in high school, a friend of mine went to the Vet wearing a Giants’ Barber jersey. Inevitably, he was approached by a large Eagles fan who pointed a finger right in my buddy’s face and said “TIKI BARBER’S REAL HOT, ISN’T HE?” Maybe it was the size of the guy, but my friend just laughed and shook his head in defeat. The story is still a legend of Eagles fandom amongst my group of friends.

Still, nothing can beat the tale of the outraged Flyers’ fan who took heckling to a whole new level during a rare player-versus-fan fight. Prior to the incident, Domi sprayed a gang of shit-talking Flyers fans with his water bottle, ultimately sending this enraged fan into a swatting frenzy towards Domi. The fan just wanted to get a couple swats in on the hockey player, but then the Plexiglas gave way and he fell into a world of hurt. So really, the Flyers fan isn’t the asshole in this situation. It was playing a dedicated co-fan, looking out for his water-soaked buddies, that got him into trouble.

Such is the fate of all Philadelphia sports fans. Dedication being interpreted as violence, consideration seen as obnoxiousness and love and devotion portrayed as heckling. The media shuns us, other cities fans call us barbaric and rival teams hate playing here. Love it or hate it, we’re the best fans in the world.


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AroundPhilly Staff

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