My native town is about 90 minutes north of Philadelphia. I grew up in the heart of Philadelphia sports teams country, though I can't say that I felt that connected to any of the major Philly teams as a kid. Sure, I'd root for them if they made the playoffs (especially if the Eagles were dueling against the Cowboys), but I was a fairweather fan at best.
Philly fans have been notorious for their obnoxious behavior, particularly towards their teams' rivals and rival fans. The bickering between Democrats and Republicans on the Hill is tame compared to the treatment Philly fans give other fans. The legendary tales go back some 30 years when Eagles fans booed Santa Claus over their team actually winning a game late in a season, and thus missing out on an opportunity to draft O.J. Simpson. However, I've noticed a trend over the last couple years of Philly fans steeping to new apparent lows that mystify even me.
The trend started with the 2009 World Series. A well-documented case involved a woman in her mid-40s posting an ad on Craigslist and was willing to exchange sex for tickets to the World Series. An undercover police officer responded to the ad and set up a sting to arrest the woman. She was arrested and was convicted of attempted prostitution.
Then there's the case of the kid who ran out on the field at a Phillies game and was tazed by police officers to capture him. What I found most odd about the case was that he called his father to inform him of his plans, hoping his dad would approve. I don't know how intoxicated this kid was, but he was clearly coherent enough to call his father ahead of time. Granted, he's not the first fan to ever run out on the field to get his 15 minutes of fame, and he probably wasn't the first one to call someone else ahead of time to inform someone of his plans. But in the history of all fans running out on the field, has anyone gotten away with it and not gotten arrested?
Speaking of being arrested, there's the incident of a guy who made himself vomit on an 11-year-old girl at a Phillies game. As bad as an idea as that was, the girl's father was an off-duty police officer (naturally). That behavior transcends immaturity for any age level, so I'm not even sure there's a word to accurately describe how stupid it is for a grown man.
As awful as these two cases are, I think the worst examples occured just this week. A video clip has hit the internet showing a 3-year-old - a 3-year-old - drinking from a beer bottle at Sunday's Phillies game against the Padres. That is not a typo; a 3-year-old boy drank from a beer bottle in open view of others. I don't know if his parents were around him or not, but honestly I'm not sure which of those two possibilities is worse.
Then just last night, the Blackhawks beats the Flyers in Game 6 to win the Stanley Cup. The game was played in Philadelphia, and Flyers fans were understandably upset and disappointed at the loss. They actually booed the Blackhawks players after they won (which is what most fans would likely do), and continued booing well after the Stanley Cup was presented to them. If they're so upset over their team losing, why not leave the stadium and vent elsewhere? The Blackhawks were celebrating as any team would after winning their respective sport's championship. They weren't thumbing their collective noses at the Philly fans.
I'm all for showing undying support of one's favorite team in any sport, but why the collective crass behavior? A very convincing argument could even be made that calling this behavior crass is being overly polite. I've thrown fits when my teams lose crucial games, especially those in the playoffs. I'll talk trash with fans of rival teams, but I never get overly hostile with them.
The irony to this whole subject is that even Philly fans' behavior is tame compared to soccer fans around the world. The brawls that happen between Manchester United fans and other fans are far worse than any behavior that's been seen in the U.S. (so far). Can it be people's need to have their 15 minutes of fame in any way, shape, or form that drives their horrid actions at sporting events? I suppose combining that need with alcohol will drive anyone beyond the point of reasonable thinking.