Here we go again. Several times a year (usually one per sport per season), one of the “insightful” national publications runs a list of the worst/most unruly fans in sports. Inevitably, Philadelphia claims first prize or at least dishonorable mention. GQ Magazine is the latest to pile on, naming Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies fans “the Meanest Fans in America.” Methinks these metrosexual GQ morons have officially jumped the shark as they have prodded us one too many times. When do we get tired of bearing the brunt of the criticism and realize that the problem is not Philly fans – it is drunken, stupid, irresponsible sports fans in general!!!
Being a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan myself, I do take umbrage at the national/international image of the Philadelphia fan. Mention is always made of the JD Drew battery incident or Dick Allen battery incident. World reknown is the 1968 Santa Claus snowball fiasco. We all remember that Steve Carlton refused to talk with Philadelphia media after some negative experience and even Mike Schmidt got booed regularly during his Hall of Fame career. Much has been made of the abysmal taser incident at Citizen’s Bark Park (after a fan took the field for the sole purpose of being chased by security) or the reprehensible episode involving the 11-
year-old daughter of a Philadelphia cop. Phillies fans booed Adam Eaton at the Rings Ceremony from the 2008 World Championship and general behavior in the old 700 Level at Veterans Stadium is legendary. In 1949 Philadelphia fans pelted the umpires with glass beer bottles during a game with the Giants (game was eventually forfeited by the Phillies) prompting the umpires to hide in the clubhouse until police took the
field. Donovan McNabb used to often bring up the Draft Day booing in 1999, but that occurred in New York, so we’ll blame that one on the Big Apple. Eagles fans did used to boo Santa Claus, the Dallas Cowboys and throw snowballs (or ice balls) at just about anyone in their sights) but it doesn’t mean that this is truly emblematic of the nature of the true Philadelphia sports fans! These are the same fans who celebrated with their beloved Phillies in 1980 after 97 years of generational futility. These fans stormed the field to congratulate the 1960 NFL Champion Eagles, embraced the 1983 Sixers and hoisted two Stanley Cups with the Broad Street Bullies in 1974 and 1975.
New York, Montreal and Oakland have all seen far more heinous incidents with their fans. Soccer houligans in South America and Europe have caused far more damage and actually gotten bystanders killed. World Cup events have had more security problems in South Africa or Italy or Columbia than anything that has happened in Philadelphia. Flyers fans booed Sarah Palin but I’m not sure that was a poor choice. Any Eagles fans will tell you that a large contingency have stopped attending games due to obnoxious, drunken fans who tailgate all day and party all night but the stadium and city have made Herculean efforts to curtail such behavior.
Philadelphia fans were admonished for trashing the 1999 Honda Accord of a Montreal sportswriter (Pat Hickey) after Flyers crushed the Montreal Canadiens 6-0 in Game 1 of the 2010 Eastern Conference finals at Wachovia Center. Hickey, a veteran hockey and baseball (until 2005 when the Expos left Montreal for Washington) writer had been coming to Philadelphia for 20 years without incident. This night however, chest-thumping Flyer fans were compelled to cover Hickey’s car with garbage, slash one of his tires and steal the Quebec license plates. Fans also tore a guard off the front of the 11-year-old Honda, which boasted over 350,000 miles (565,000 KM) on the odometer. Point is, this was not a gleaming Bentley rolling off the line with solid gold hood ornaments and $30,000 rims.
“Obviously it was a bit disturbing,” Hickey told media the following morning, hours before the Flyers and Canadiens faced off in Game 2 of the series. Hickey, one of the deans of Canadian sportswriting, said he’s never had any problems in 20 years of Philadelphia coverage. “I’m a little surprised. A little disappointed,” he said. Hickey, 66, spent most of Monday trying to find a police station to file a report that would allow him to re-enter Canada, sans license plates.
“The police officer who filed my accident report is a Flyers season-ticket holder,” Hickey told reporters. “He was very nice about the whole thing, and apologized on behalf of the city and the fanbase. He knows it wasn’t a coincidence the car with the Quebec plates was the only one in the parking lot with crushed beer cans all over it.” The Flyers apparently have an area where media members may park their cars, but it is available only to those who work in the Philadelphia area. Since the incident, Hickey received hundreds of e-mails, running about 3-to-1 on the apologetic side. He was invited to dinner, and some fans have asked him to join them for tailgating prior to Tuesday night’s Game 2.
“I’ve seen bad behavior in every city.” he told the Inquirer. “We already had one riot in Montreal during the playoffs. It’s unfortunate. Some people use being fans as an excuse for bad behavior.” Hickey wasn’t the only Canadian media member to suffer at the hands of Flyers fans. A mobile broadcast unit belonging to the French arm of CBC was vandalized as they were about to do a live segment. Cords were pulled from the unit and beer poured onto the control panel. Security has been brought in attempting to prevent it from happening again.
Excerpt from author Adam W(h)iner:
Over the years, Philadelphia fans have booed Santa Claus, their own star players, and most absurdly, the recipient of America’s very first hand transplant, whose crime was dribbling in a ceremonial first pitch—thrown with his freshly transplanted hand. Boooo! Admittedly, there are some things fans have cheered. Like Michael Irvin’s career-ending neck injury and a fan being tased on the outfield grass. Things reached their nadir last season, when Citizens Bank Park played host to arguably the most heinous incident in the history of sports: A drunken fan intentionally vomited on an 11-year-old girl. The truth is this: All told, Philadelphia stadiums house the most monstrous collection of humanity outside of the federal penal system. “Some of these people would boo the crack in the Liberty Bell,” baseball legend Pete Rose once said. More likely, these savages would have thrown the battery that cracked it.
For the record, Eagles fans came in second place and the Phillies were tops in bad behavior. Fans of West Virginia University, the Oakland Raiders and Maryland basketball rounded out the top 5. What kind of poll is this? Slanted. It ignores all of the problems in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and worldwide. It fails to mention the deaths
at Colombian soccer/futbol games, the riots in Los Angeles, the players attacking fans in Detroit or the rampant unruly behavior in Chicago and Detroit after championships – let alone the human slave auction held in Mexico City during an exhibition NFL game. What about New York fans spitting on Cliff Lee’s wife at the Bronx? I’m not exonerating Philly fans in any way, shape or form. Lewd and sophomoric behavior occurs at all kinds of sports venues across the globe. I’m merely asking GQ and anyone else to cast a wider net before casting aspersions solely on the City of Brotherly Love.
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About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org