First off, let me explain why I'm writing this. Philadelphia is close to a championship, again. We've been there before, the hype is incredible, the excitement and electricity is in the air...everybody is waiting, almost painfully waiting, for that first pitch...for that first hit. Time wears on, every second seemingly slower and slower. Why does it matter so much to us Philadelphia Phaithful? Well, it's a big sports town. All of Pennsylvania is that way. Passionate. Knowledgable. Loyal. And...on some levels, a bit crazy. It is what it is.
A good question was asked of me yesterday. "What type of sports town is Philadelphia?" Well, the answer to that is a bit tricky. Go back 30-40 years, the answer was a lot simplier. It's a baseball town. Today though, not so much. Through the late 70's, 80's, 90's and this decade, the town has really attached itself to it's football team. Not saying there wasn't loyalty or a rabid fanbase there already, it was. But baseball was more prominent. Today, the quick and easy answer is..."Whoever is playing". And really, it's the truth. If you're an all Philadelphia fan, whatever sport is on you'll follow. Baseball, football, basketball, hockey...doesn't matter. You love it. Each of the teams here has a lot of history, a lot of great players have passed through here, and a lot of great memories have passed through the walls of our stadiums and complexes. It doesn't stop there though. Soccer and lacrosse have established strong roots here, and in 2010, Philadelphia will gain yet another professional sports team in the MLS. Myself, I'm an all-around fan. I love sports, I played them throughout my childhood, and in such gained a lot of friends and experiences that I would not trade for anything in the world. (also, if you wanna find more out about that, I have another entry about how I'm a Pennsylvania fan, not just Philly, and why).
So why is gaining a championship for this city so important? Will it really improve anybody's life besides the players, coaches, staff and owners of the team that gets it? Will it earn you more money in your paycheck? Will it make your food taste sweeter? Will you suddenly drop that 20 lbs you been wanting to but never seem to be able to do (or in my case, I'm trying to put on 15 lbs since I left college)? Will she finally be able to say yes to the big question? Will your boss give you that promotion? Will crime drop in the city? Will your house look better? To all the things that really really really matter in life...will any of those really improve? Will all of a sudden the city as a whole be better off and shown in a better light because one of our big 4 teams finally win a championship? The answer is no. So again, why is it so important? For me, I'll tell you why....
Because we're diehard fans. We like winners in this city. Hard to believe since we've had so few of them. Maybe there is a bit of a syndrome, when you're one of the great cities in the united states, yet the championships...compared to New York, compared to Boston, compared to Pittsburgh or Chicago or St. Loius.......seem so miniscule. Doesn't make those cities better, it just feels that way. This city and it's surrounding area provide so much to the country, offer so much in terms of culture, economy, agriculture, politics, history....everything really needed to sustain a country, Philadelphia and the surrounding area provide it's share. So in essence, we also want our teams to represent that. Of course, they haven't and in reality, they wouldn't anyways because teams aren't the base of our economy or culture or politics or any of that. They just exist to play here. But we still love them. Because we embrace them as one of our own, as part of that culture, that history. And in that sense, that's why we want them to win.
So it won't change our lives, it won't improve them in a true sense. But it will make us happy. For at least a day, it will make it impossible for us to not smile, exchange happiness and good will. Is it wrong it means that much to us? No. It's a great thing that at some level, all the population in this area can have something in common and be prideful in. For at least a little while, we can rejoice in something like this happening. And we can do it together, as a city and a culture.