As a self-proclaimed Twitter addict, I’ve followed many a Sixers fan, from the “Covington is Trash” and “Fire Brett Brown” crew, to the “Long Live Hinkie” and “Trust the Process” crowd, and wow, they are all fighting with each other, that’s for sure. Not to be dramatic, but it’s a bloodbath out there. Truly. Civil conversations are few and far between, taking a back seat to name calling and quote tweeting, the goal being getting in the last word or the best comeback. Healthy debate has fallen to the wayside, and it makes me wonder, have we always been like this? Have Philly fans always been this opinionated and hard-headed with each other? Because I thought we were supposed to save all that energy for Cowboys and Celtics fans, but that’s just me.
Maybe it’s Twitter acting as a megaphone for trolls and idiots alike, whose takes stir up just enough conversation to spark the drive to accumulate likes and retweets. Studies have shown that interaction on social media affects the same areas of the brain that are activated when engaging in pleasurable real-life activities like eating good food and snuggling with your partner. The hunger for serotonin becomes much stronger when you realize it doesn’t take much effort to get it. Combine this drive with opinionated Philly fans and Twitter and it’s game over.
Strangers are fighting with friends and friends are fighting with each other all over 280 characters, max. Sometimes, in a community that’s as tightly-knit as Sixers Twitter, you really can’t tweet out anything without being prepared to field any and all reactions, even for a tweet as silly and simple as “I miss Robert Covington.”
Long gone are the days of the moral victory, where we can appreciate a well-played game fought against a fierce opponent. But watch out if the team or even a few players played poorly but still managed to squeak out a win. Played poorly and lost? Don’t even go there. Fans suddenly “forget” about above average stats and incredible athletic ability when a player has a brief lackluster showing and from then on, that player is trash. The Sixers lose and it’s nobody’s fault but Brett Brown’s, as if he leaves the court and, suddenly, the Sixers are great. Fultz’s form is looking weird again? Bust.
Thinking about how much you love Brett Brown? Don’t. Don’t think it and definitely don’t tweet it because in the dark corners of the internet, there are Twitter users searching out those terms to blow up your mentions and let you know how dumb you are. Or, even worse, the lurkers who hate-follow you for moments just like this, waiting to reply with “HIS ROTATIONS!!!” or something equally as vague with no further elaboration. The only time it’s acceptable to tweet your love for Brett? When we’ve just had a big win, and even then, things are dicey if the team didn’t play perfectly.
Want to plug a trade into the trade machine for funsies and tweet out a screenshot of the result because you managed to make it work with a projected +3 wins for the Sixers? No way. Save yourself the trouble. We can’t let go of Fultz because it’s too soon! Or maybe we can’t get rid of Markelle fast enough (he did a weird thing shooting his foul shots again, did you see?). Either way, you’re wrong.
Should you share a highlight clip of Covington nailing threes and looking like an elite defender in Minnesota? Definitely not. Because we have Jimmy Butler, you pleb! Get it together. You can’t miss Covington when we have Jimmy Butler. You just can’t. And sharing that clip after his postseason run against Boston? He sucks and so do you. Traitor.
You can’t honestly “Trust the Process,” you nerd. Hinkie was the devil and we’re glad he’s gone! He forced the Sixers to tank and that was terrible, don’t you remember? So what if it got us Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and eventually Jimmy Butler? We traded away Nerlens for a fake draft pick, and that was dirty as hell! Don’t even respond to me. Blocked.
Wow, did you really just JOKE about Ben not taking a three? You’re just as bad as Boston fans; I don’t care if you were kidding. He’s not going to take a three so just STOP. It’s not funny. Here’s a Jonah Hill “Nope” gif.
Philadelphia fans have been known to be among the best/worst (simultaneously) fans in sports, and that’s because we take serious stock on our teams and their players and hold them accountable. We become invested because we have such an intense emotional connection to the players, especially after sticking around during the seasons where they really stunk it up. Yeah, we might have crappy teams, but they’re our crappy teams, darn it. Sixers Twitter is evolving, with a new age of analytics-heavy reporting and emphasis on a player’s stats over actual gameplay. Before, it was just a virtual island of misfit fans that leaned on each other and fantasized about one day enjoying a sport in Philadelphia.
imagine enjoying a sport in philadelphia
— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) November 26, 2015
Maybe this is also a result of fans finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that is The Process’ conclusion. We’ve spent so long being, well, not great that landing Jimmy Butler has given us a glimmer of hope that we might still be in this thing – especially after what some would describe as a disappointing offseason and despite losing our grown baby boys, Robert Covington and Dario Saric.
Coming off a Super Bowl win last season (the Eagles won by the way and Tom Brady dropped it), Philadelphia fans have a newfound fire burning in their bellies. For better or for worse, we’ve gotten a taste of victory and discovered just how sweet it truly is. We’ve realized that, hey, Philly sports might not just be a reason to drink a lot of beer and eat a ton of food come gameday and might actually be fun. As a result, we’ve made the words “victory” and “fun” synonymous and can’t experience one without the other.
Being a fan of Philadelphia sports is complicated and being a Sixers fan is even more complicated. You’re either fiercely defending Brett Brown and his band of used-to-be misfits and patiently waiting for The Process to conclude, or pedal to the metal ready to trade and fire every Sixers player and coach this side of the Delaware. I’m not saying that you have to be one or the other either, and that’s what makes it complicated. After a five-year rebuild (even longer depending on who you talk to), our perspective runs the spectrum from totally analytical to completely irrational, sometimes having both perspectives within minutes of each other. Regardless of what camp you’re in, one thing remains the same. Our fans will defend their individual perspective to the death. And maybe that really is just a Philadelphia thing; becoming too emotionally attached and passionate to just shut up for a minute and realize we’re all looking for the same thing: a title.