A clip from Silver Linings Playbook, which was a normal Sunday afternoon for most Philly sports fans

This is a post about optimism and love. Like many of you, I love Philly sports. But to love Philly sports is to also experience the pain and torture that comes with it. From the day we are born, we are innately told to be fiercely loyal to our teams. Philly sport fans have this odd connection with blue collar players. Maybe it’s the Rocky films in all of us. 

Whether it’s Robert Covington, Corey Brewer, or backup quarterbacks, we will support the players who come from nothing to overcome great odds. We stick with our teams, and despite the differences in competition, we always demand hustle and heart. However, what our parents reluctantly failed to tell us was that there is nothing more difficult than being raised as a sports fan in Philadelphia.

Fighting the stereotype…

First, a little background about myself. As a 34-year-old, Philly sports and I have had quite the relationship. We’ve experienced the lowest of lows (90s Sixers/Phillies, 2012-2016 Sixers) and the highest of highs (Phillies 2004-2011, mid 90s Flyers, Andy Reid’s Eagles, Doug Pederson’s Eagles). The Bridge to Lidge in 2008 was my first real championship. A championship that resulted in crying and hugging, rather than screaming and celebrating.

Being raised a Philly sports fan means you live and breathe through all the little things. You get upset about the failures of a team’s medical staff or a player speeding on the Ben Franklin bridge. You obsess about a player not developing a certain aspect of their game to become a superstar (Ben Simmons). God forbid a player not give it there all on the field or court (Jimmy Rollins, Donovan McNabb). We don’t need perfection, but we do expect hustle and effort.

We were born in the darkness…

As children, we grew up to booing an injured Michael Irvin. Every time we turned on a nationally televised Eagles game, we were reminded of the time we threw snowballs at Santa. We’re constantly reminded of the time we booed Donovan McNabb at the draft. In other words, we were children born into the darkness.

Our Photographer Wayne on ESPN talking about the newest addition to his Bird’s nest

Here is evidence of this shift in ‘Negadelphian’ thinking. Wayne and his wife Dani are parents of their own Philly Special, Nicholas Wayne, who was named after quarterback Nick Foles. None of us were the product of an Eagles Super Bowl victory. Whereas Nick is being raised into a Philly sports world filled with hope and joy, the majority of us (born before the 1990s) traversed through the dread and muck for years.

Changing the stereotype…

I was a very much product of this “Negadelphian” perspective. 610 WIP blared on the radio while I ate lunch with my parents on a typical Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I witnessed extreme behavior from Eagles fans towards others or even grown men urinating on the walls of Veterans Stadium. I grew up in a well disciplined home where respect was earned and paramount, yet how were these behaviors of a Philly sports fan deemed appropriate?

The stereotype of a Philly sports fan was continually reinforced at such a young age in many of us. We grew up in a world with varying expectations, such as drinking 30 cans of Miller Lite before an Eagles or Phillies game being normal fan behavior.

One of my favorite scenes from Silver Linings Playbook

For those of you that think like me, I have four words for you: The media is wrong. I know this is something that is not surprising to hear. During the thick of 2014/2015, the national and local media incessantly told Sixers fans that we were wrong. That tanking wasn’t worth it. That tanking creates a toxic locker room and breeds a culture of losing.

Through my years, 80% of those years, the local media (mainly 94 WIP) has done nothing but reinforce the national stereotype of what it means to be a “Philly sports fan.” Passionate but loud. Brash but loyal. Unforgiving and unrelenting. Irrational but praising hustle and effort. The narrative has changed. The reign of these ‘Negadelphians like Howard Eskin and Angelo Cataldi is thankfully near its end.

90% of all interactions with my parents are about Philly sports…

If you’re like me, then most of your time with family as a child was spent on Eagles Sundays. However, the majority of those moments involved multiple uncles drinking and screaming at the TV. If you’re also like me, then 90% of all interactions with my father involves discussion about Philly sports. 

Philly sports is like a ball of yarn. We are all intertwined in this giant ball of chaos… yet through it breeds love, resiliency, and a sense of belonging. However, this ball of yarn is beginning to fall apart in the best way possible. Off the court, a huge shift is happening to the Philly sports scene.

A new Philly sports fan is brewing…

A new Philly sports fan has risen. Sam Hinkie and The Rights to Ricky Sanchez group have taught us that growing up as a “Negadelphian” is a choice and not a way of life. A new Philly sports fan has evolved since The Process years. Through the RTRS movement, we learned that there is more to being a diehard Philly sports fan than just an end score. While the worst of the Philly sports fans have diminished, the best parts have only been amplified.

The majority of Philly sports fans no longer demand a trophy every year. Philly sports fans now demand a direction and to remain faithful to those decisions in the hopes to gather the pieces for a championship. We no longer share the ‘doom and gloom’ attitude of our parents. Optimism and hope is at an all time peak for younger generations of Philly sports fans.

This is not something the national media wants you to know. Like I first told you, this is a post about love, hope, and optimism. That light is just around the corner for many of us Philly sports fans. There have been waves upon waves of love spread by Philly sports fans. Here are some of the best examples of the new Philly sports fan.

They said the fans won’t come back…

Per ESPN.com, a look at Sixers attendance for the 2018/19 season

It was just a couple of years ago when the media said the fans won’t come back. The Sixers are currently among the tops in the league in attendance, viewership, and merchandise.

The Return of Markelle Fultz…

No Sixers fan had a dry eye when Markelle Fultz returned to the court last season

This was a special moment that will never be brought up by national media. Despite all the mental and physical issues, Sixers fans embraced Markelle like a son when he returned to the court last season.

Dario and RoCo return home…

Sixers fans came out in droves for Robert Covington and Dario Saric’s return to Philadelphia

Immense affection for Corey Brewer…

Sixers fans are falling head over heels for Corey Brewer and the immense hustle and heart he shows on the court

If there is one fact about Philly sports fans, it’s that they have an insanely emotional connection with role players showing extreme heart and hustle.

Alshon Jeffrey is one of us…

A kid tells Alshon Jeffrey that we love him during a Sixers game

If this were 10 years ago, Alshon Jeffrey would be boo’d into oblivion by fans in Philadelphia. Instead, there was an outpouring of forgiveness and love given to Alshon from the fans when he returned to Philly fresh off of the biggest drop of his career.

A new era of hope and optimism…

A clip from The Dark Knight

To quote Harvey Dent: “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.” It’s incredible to think that Philly sports fans have seen 4 championships over the last 10 years between the Eagles, Phillies, and Villanova Wildcats. Philly sports talk radio has thrived on the ‘Negadelphian’ fan for decades. Those days have come and gone. It will be interesting to see how Philly sports talk radio shifts over the next several years.

Millions of young sports fans similar to Wayne and Dani’s children are being raised in a new environment of hope and optimism. As promised, this is a post about optimism and love. Great times are ahead for all Philly sports fans, young and old. Joel Embiid is in MVP form and a healthy Carson Wentz means the Eagles will be in playoff contention for the foreseeable future. In years past, to love Philly sports was to experience all the pain and torture that came with it. Today, it’s even more important to cherish the good and the time we have together.