Welcome to Philadelphia, the city that throws snowballs at Santa Claus, boos its superstars and now Tasers its own fans. We have the image of a city that cannot control itself at sports events.
We beat up fans rooting for opposing teams, drink to excess, swear in front of kids and constantly make fools of ourselves. There’s no denying any of that.
But we also have a waiting list of 50,000 for Eagles’ season tickets, have sold out 58 straight games at Citizens Bank Park, have among the highest TV ratings in the country and have helped build three of the best stadiums and arenas in the U.S.
Our only problem is that the stupid acts get national headlines while the amazing support does not. It happened all over again last week after a Philadelphia cop dropped a teenager on the outfield grass at Citizens Bank Park with a Taser. The kid was fine and the cop received no punishment. The only victim in the end was Philadelphia’s image.
Well, here’s my response to the latest wave of criticism: It’s time to embrace our reputation instead of denying it. It’s time to accept the fact that we lead the league in passion — and probably stupidity, too. Hey, I’d rather care too much than not enough.
I have a different perspective on this topic because I grew up outside of Boston. Generally, the fans are more reverential than us. They boo only when there is no other logical response. They prefer to worship sports heroes, to assign saintly qualities to unsaintly people. They are boring and predictable.
The biggest reason I walked away from that atmosphere is that I knew better. I would cover mortal men but be expected to write about them as if they were supernatural. Larry Bird was an incredible player, yes, but he was also an ingrate who hated interaction with fans. Wade Boggs was a fantastic hitter, and a married man with a girlfriend.
Philadelphia is a better sports city than Boston — and all the others — because it holds its players to the highest standard. The Eagles are a perennial playoff team? Not good enough. They haven’t won a title in 50 years. The Phils traded for Roy Halladay? Great, but why did they trade Cliff Lee?
The Taser incident should be the last time we look at ourselves in a negative light. We should laugh in the face of all the national critics. We should realize that our kind of passion sometimes leads to bad decisions, but other times it brings two million fans to Center City for a championship parade.
We are the sports city that cares the most in America, and it’s time we accepted all that goes with that identity.
– Angelo Cataldi is host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays from 5:30-10 a.m.