Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Wonderful Escapades of Philly Sports Fans

"Got Drunk, Got High, Got Tasered- Just another day at the ballpark." People of all types are selling these shirts outside of Citizens Bank Park. And, a new incident just breaking into the news from a Phils game on Sunday got me thinking about all the famous fan incidents of Philadelphia Sports, from someone who lives there, but isn't a fan (add the ph where you feel necessary).

You can say all of this bad press about Philly sports fans began when they threw snowballs at Santa Claus. This is from a time when the Eagles were truly bad, and so was Franklin Field. So bad in fact, the Christmas Pageant couldn't go on. I'm sure Eagles fans were very sad not to see it. So, a fan dressed up as Santa came out, and promptly got snowballs thrown at him. This only started the burgeoning trend of aggressiveness and downright sometimes rudeness of Philly sports fans.

The Vet was the palace of sports rudeness for the 32 years it stood. I'll just skip to the 700 level, where the cheap seats sat, and the most rude of fans in the world bought tickets for there (No flares were thrown at the park as far as I know). As Jere Longman described in his book, If Football's a Religion, Why Don't We Have a Prayer? this place had a reputation for "hostile taunting, fighting, public urination and general strangeness." Now, there may have been places like this in other venues around the globe, but none were like this one. The fights in this area were so bad, they had a courthouse underneath the stadium. The Vet's history of fan outbursts are numerous. I'll name a few for outsiders:

1) The "Bounty Bowl"
2) "Bounty Bowl II"
3) MNF losses by the Eagles to San Francisco and Dallas
4) Throwing D-Cell batteries at J.D Drew

Just some of many of the famed fan misconduct at the Vet. This leads me to the 2010 Phillies season. I'm writing this in the 2nd week of June, and there have already been 3 incidents at home games this year. The tasing incident is famous across the sports world by now, but there are 2 others that are a bit more obscure. When a fan intentionally throws up on the people in front of him, then you know you're not in the most friendly sports environment. The man who did that puked on an 11 year old girl and her dad. Flares landing on a players head in Italy is bad, but puking on the people in front of you? Not even the most rabid soccer fans would think of doing that. Soccer fans in Britain may have clever taunts, but they have nothing on drunk Phillies fans standing above the visitors bullpen. But, this one recent incident may be the craziest out of the many happening in Philly sports history.

A fuzzy CSN camera video caught a young child, looking about age 4, according to the AP, attempting to drink from a beer bottle. WHAT? No adults were paying attention to this either? The Phillies have assumed the bottle was empty, and I hope to God it was. This is beyond snowballs at Santa, batteries at J.D Drew, or "Taze Him! Taze Him!" One fan on the Philadelphia Inquirer's website said, "This is most likely not as it seems, but let's see how many national New York-based media outlets jump on this one. THESE ARE ISOLATED AND UNRELATED INCIDENTS! WE ARE NOT ALL LIKE THIS!"  (Writer's note: The caps were NOT added by me for effect). Most fans aren't serving beer to 4 year olds, and I accept that. And, whoever this fan was, he is right not all of Philly sports fans are like that. But, the select few that are, have defined Philadelphia sports culture for 40 years with their grotesque, and frankly stupid actions. I don't condone any of what Philly sports fans have done in the past, but these incidents this year brought back my thoughts of why Philadelphia sports fans are the craziest, weirdest, and sometimes, the most passionate fans in sports.

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