Rules For Being a Philadelphia Sports Fan: The Dos and Don'ts

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Rules For Being a Philadelphia Sports Fan: The Dos and Don'ts
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Philadelphia fans cheering on Roy Halladay on his way to the second no-hitter in postseason history

There are certain things, as an outsider, you can pick up on when going into a different sports city.

You in Boston? Don’t wear that Yankees cap.

You in Chicago? You better pick Cubs or Sox, and stick to it.

You in Los Angeles? Who are we kidding? If you’re in Los Angeles, picking the Clippers is only because you feel bad. Many cities across the country are similar.

Don’t you dare go to Ann Arbor, MI and sport a red and grey Buckeye shirt. That is worse than treason. If you’re on tobacco road in North Carolina, you are either a Tar Heel or Blue Devil supporter. Not both, never both.

Philadelphia has these same set of rules, and we, the loyal Philadelphia fan base, typically tend to enforce them ourselves. These rules may seem logical and brilliant.

To others, however, they may seem irrational, stupid, and, to a select few, they might not even make any sense.

Regardless of how you feel towards the rules for being a Philadelphia fan, they are there and are expected to be followed.

Here are just a few selections from the rulebook.

1. Never root for the Mets, Cowboys, or Penguins

This rule may seem like a no-brainer, and it is. The only circumstance in which it is deemed acceptable to root for any of these teams is when it would be more beneficial to the Philadelphia franchise for these teams to win.

2. Why get specific? Never root for New York, period.

The only time it is even remotely feasible to muster enough nerve to root for anyone on these teams is in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game when it would bring home-field advantage to the Phillies (if they make the playoffs and win the pennant).

3. Always Defend Your City

a. Listen, Santa deserved to be booed on December 15, 1968 at Franklin Field. A 2-11 team had just traded everyone away and did not have any intentions of putting a winning team on the field. They deserved to get booed.

The real Santa did not even show up, so a 5’6’’ 170 lb fan came from the stands to walk around the track and pretend to be Santa Claus. They trade away the players then present a scrawny Santa? Everyone would be upset with that. So Santa was ultimately booed and pelted with snowballs.

Philadelphia Eagles fans did not go to Wannamaker’s (a department store in Philadelphia) or Macy’s and walk up and pelt Santa with snowballs while he listened as children told him what they wanted for Christmas. So this story has been taken out of context.

b.  Yes, there was a jail cell and courtroom in Veterans Stadium to hold rowdy fans. If Ray Rhodes was the head coach and Bobby Hoying was the starting quarterback while Mike Mamula held down the defensive line, you would probably feel the need the punch something too.

c. Not all of the Philadelphia fans run on to the playing field and get tased. That is a fact.

4. If pro athletes leave the city for another team and then speak negatively about their time in Philadelphia, they deserve to get booed and heckled.

There are a number of places we can begin here.

a. Donovan McNabb

OK, so maybe you didn’t throw up in the huddle. Maybe there were some delays in substituting players. The fact still remains that you did not manage the clock well, and it showed. Stop blaming other people for what happened.

Granted, maybe it was partially their fault. But they were not quarterbacking the Eagles, you were. Stand up and take responsibility. It has been five and a half years.

Yes, you were a great quarterback here and won a lot of games for the franchise. That deserves to be remembered. However, do not tell GQ that the front office and Andy Reid did not defend you against the media. You’re an adult; you can handle the media yourself.

b.  Terrell Owens

Let’s just get this out there: I do not have this unquenching thirst to have you in my life. Thinking that people need to see you all over ESPN, VH1, Fox or wherever is, putting it nicely, misguided. Get over yourself.

The charade you pulled in your driveway sealed your fate in Philadelphia. You will not be well received in Philadelphia, ever. Thinking you are bigger than the franchise we know and love is a level of arrogance that does not sit well with those who bleed green.

c.  Billy Wagner

I have no clue why you spoke negatively of your time in Philadelphia. You wanted more money, so you went to the Mets. After you signed, all of a sudden you hate Philadelphia and its fan base. This is baffling because people in Philadelphia loved you. Now we, of course being the smart fans that we are, can’t stand you and want to watch you get lit up like a Christmas tree every time you enter the game.

d. Scott Rolen

You whined and cried to get out of the city. Turns out, letting you go cleared up enough money to sign Jim Thome, David Bell (hind sight is 20/20), and trade for Kevin Millwood (this was a big deal at the time). Listening to you whine on the news every night during 2002 Spring Training was just a pathetic display for a so-called “professional.”

e. Wes Helms

Despite the short stay in Philadelphia, you still managed to make your mark. Watching you step to the plate sporting the red Phillies pinstripes was brutal. You managed to be so putrid in a Phillies uniform that the fan base grew to despise you even though you were a platoon player at third base.

What really irks us is how you can be such a solid contributor for the Florida Marlins before and AFTER your stint with the Phillies. Why were you so bad with us? (Side note: Wes Helms never spoke negatively about his time in Philadelphia, he is just not well-liked).

f.  Jeremy Roenick

During the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, JR could be heard discussing how great the Chicago Blackhawks were and how happy he is to be a former Blackhawk. In doing so, he spurned the Flyers fan base by not mentioning anything positive about the Flyers at all. The only compliments directed towards Philadelphia were that the Flyers were playing like the Blackhawks.

At no point did Roenick ever mention that he also played for the Flyers. If JR is willing to turn his back on the Flyers fans, the fans are going to turn their back on you. Or boo. One or the other.

(Left off the list is former Flyers captain Eric Lindros. After Lindros left, he complained about the Flyers front office and how they mishandled his concussions. Due to the recent light being shed on concussions in the sports world, Lindros might have a legitimate argument, that is why is left off of the list… for now)

5. Learn the pronunciation

a. Water- "Wooder”

b. Soda- “Soda”- not “Pop”

c.   Hoagie- “Hoagie”- not a “Sub” or a “Grinder”

d.  With- “Wit” (*this is when ordering a cheese steak, WITH onions)

6. You know if you go to a sports bar and it says “Philly Cheese Steak”, it is not

The authenticity of a Philadelphia cheese steak should be made clear within the first few bites of the sandwich. Whether it is the tender meat, the cheese whiz (if you like it), or the Amoroso or Liscio’s bakery roll, there are many characteristics of a cheese steak from Philadelphia. If a place needs to say “Philly Cheese Steak,” it is not a true Philadelphia Cheese Steak.

7.  Do not mistake Crab Fries for actual shellfish. Crab Fries are made from potatoes, They are deep fried, seasoned with a secret blend of spices that resemble Old Bay seasoning but is not Old Bay, and sold at Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, the Wells Fargo Center and at Chickie’s & Pete’s Sports Bar. Do not get the fries without the cheese sauce.

8.  Know the History

This rule goes for all sports and all sports cities. “If you don’t know where you came from, how do you know where you’re going?” You must know the Whiz Kids, Whitey, Harry, Michael Jack, Dutch, Lenny, Chase, Cole, etc….Bednarik, Jaws, Buddy, Reggie, Jerome, Dawk, Jeremiah, etc…. Bobby, Bernie, Schultz, the Watson Brothers, Lindbergh, Hextall, Desjardins, Primeau, Simon, etc…. Chamberlain, Erving, Malone, Cheeks, Barkley, Stackhouse, Iverson, McKie, Iguodala, Young, etc…..

9. High Hopes is attributed to Frank Sinatra, but in Philadelphia it is sung by Harry

Legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas always sung “High Hopes” to celebrate major victories and accomplishments. Despite his passing on April 13, 2009, his memory still lives on as a compilation of video clips of him signing “High Hopes” plays at Citizens Bank Park after every Phillies victory.

10. We demand the best, or at least the best effort

Philadelphia fans are well known for their booing.

Publicly criticized by national sports writers for how hard we are on our hometown teams, we feel that the judgment is wrong. When players are not playing to their full potential, we are going to boo to let them know we expect more from them. If a player is not giving 110 percent every time, we are going to boo. We expect people to play to the best of their ability, and if they don’t, they are going to hear it.

But if they show the effort and grittiness for doing everything they can to win, we welcome that with open arms. (i.e. Aaron Rowand crashing into the wall in 2007, Ian Laperriere taking a puck to the face a number of times during the 2009-2010 season).

11. It is not even booing

It may sound like “boo” when in reality it is “Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuul” for Raul Ibanez, or “Chooooooooooch” for Carlos Ruiz, or the lesser known “Roooooooo” for Claude Giroux, or the original “Boooooooch” for Brian Boucher.

These are the baseline rules for Philadelphia fans. If you live in Philadelphia but are not a Philadelphia fan, this should help you not step on the toes of the natives.

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