15 November 2010

The Lazy Journalism of Attacking Philadelphia Fans

Only in the world of sports journalism can one constantly rehash a tired issue mired with more opinion than fact, more hyperbole than actual reporting, and still remain employed. Such is the case with the constant lambasting of Philadelphia sports fans. Ladies and gentlemen of the sports media, enough is enough. It is time to move on and start using your time and your employer's money to actually cover the contests you are paid to cover, not reeditorialize a dead issue. And here are a few reasons why.

Philadelphia is not your scapegoat
Rooting for the Birds at the Linc.
Incidents involving unruly spectators at sporting events are not limited to one place, nor are they prevalent in one place more than others. New York, Chicago, and Detroit all have just as many, if not more, incidents as Philadelphia. In fact, throughout the baseball, hockey, and football seasons commentators ignore any negative behavior on the part of every other city's fans, from vulgar chants to items being thrown to the field, but their camera operators are quick to seek out Philly fans looking angry so the commentators can make an offhand remark about how terrible they are.

Your immaturity is (or should be) tarnishing your reputation
I, a Philadelphian and a die-hard sports fan, love Washington DC. It's a beautiful city with a fantastic Metro. I subscribed to the Post through email and am a rabid supporter of their MLS team, DC United. However, my Post subscription was quickly canceled once Mike Wise likened the women and children attending Flyers' games to security at a Megadeth concert. Wise, who was suspended earlier this year for a fake tweet about Ben Roethlisberger, received no such punishment for blatantly insulting women and children who did nothing but go to a hockey game to root for their team. Wise is certainly not the only so-called journalist guilty of such actions, as just as recently as last week Eagles fans were labeled as idiots on Yahoo Sports. There is no place for name-calling in journalism, it's unnecessary and embarrassing.

What really happened?
Celebrating the 2008 World Series win.
More often than not, what is reported is far from what actually happened. When Michael Irvin took a big hit and went down, yes, people cheered. However, once those of us in the stands realized he was hurt, we quieted down. In fact, in the section right above the hit (where I was sitting), we were gathered around a radio trying to hear from the announcers if he was going to be alright and clapped as he was taken from the field. A similar situation happened just last week at the game against the Colts. Wide receiver Austin Collie was hit and moments later, a flag hit the ground. In every single stadium in this country I have ever been to, the moment a penalty is called everyone's attention turns immediately to the big screen for a replay. On that day, the replay showed that the hit was legal, thus drawing boos from the crowd, who had yet to notice Collie was still ground. Once their attention returned to the field, they quieted down and clapped respectfully as Collie was taken from the field.

Philadelphians are not the problem
Take a look back over incidents that happened at Philadelphia sporting events over the past several years. From fools running onto the field to fights to drunken buffoons inducing vomiting, these people all have two things in common. One, they are an embarrassment to our fans, teams, and city. Two, they're not from Philadelphia. I know this is nitpicking, but as someone from Philadelphia who has also lived in the suburbs, I can tell you there are differences between the fans. The true Philadelphians are the fans who, if they can afford it, go to a game and stay to the bitter end, even when losing 42-0 in the snow on Monday Night Football. They're the fans who are among the most passionate and knowledgeable followers of any sport organizations. The people who cause the majority of the problems and bring embarrassment and shame are more often than not the people who buy season tickets because they can, go to games to party and not to root for the team, and either leave or cause trouble when things are not going their way.

I hope that journalists and commentators begin to cover Philadelphia sports more objectively. I've been to Philly sporting events supporting the home team as well as vehemently rooting against Philly in certain sports while decked out in the other teams' colors. In either circumstance, I have never had an issue with any other fan, and more often than not, I see fans from out of town chatting amiably with the Philadelphia fans sitting by them, discussing everything from sports, sightseeing in the city, and how wonderful cheesesteaks can be.

So yes, Philadelphia fans are passionate. And yes, we will cheer our athletes when they win for us and boo them when they lose, but we'll also be the first to defend them from outside attacks. Philadelphia is a beautiful city with a wonderfully diverse and incredibly welcoming population, and it deserves much better than what it has received from the biased world of sports journalism.

1 comment:

  1. I'm surprised that no one has commented yet. I have a story to offer as evidence of the difference between a "Philadelphian" going to a sporting event, and a "partier" using the game as an excuse to get obliterated.

    In 2007, I took a trip to Green Bay, WI for the opening game between the Eagles and the Packers. A bunch of us from my family went, I have an uncle who lives in WI, and it was all to have a guys weekend. At Lambeau Field, I somehow ran into someone I knew from working together at a drinking establishment in South Jersey. He was trashed, and cut just under his eye.

    When I asked him what happened, he told me(slurred to me) how he had an argument with a Packers fan, the guy sucker punched him in the cheek, and he HAD to fight back and knock him out. Then he ran out of the stands so he didn't get in trouble. If you've never been to WI, or a Packers game before, allow me to let you know this doesn't happen there. The environment at Lambeau Field is like going to a local football game where the entire crowd are the parents of the kids playing on the field. They're overly supportive, the music in the stadium is generic of high school sound sampling, and they even told us not to get down about losing because "it's a long season and a lot can happen over the next 15 games."

    I knew my acquaintance was full of it, and shook my head as I continued on to go find the farthest beer stand from him.

    Fans who just don't get it are the ones who cause the most harm to the reputation of Philadelphia.


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