I can’t offer any bold predictions on how Game 5 of the World Series will end. At best, I’m an avid hockey fan who dabbles in baseball on occasion with good intent but little in-depth knowledge of the sport.
That said, I do know Philadelphia and its sports fans. We eat, sleep, breathe, and die by our teams. During the past 25 years, we’ve come perilously close to championships (the 1993 Phillies or the 1996-97 Flyers) and we’ve crashed and burned in ways that make the Titanic look like a fire drill (over a decade of terrible baseball and the 2006-07 Flyers). These fans passionately love their teams, and they truly deserve to see another parade on Broad Street.
Which is why it bothers me to witness acts like those that occurred Saturday evening at the Wachovia Center. Two men - I won’t even condescend to call them fans - decided to toss a smoke bomb onto the ice, aiming at a spot between a grouping of Philadelphia Flyers by the faceoff circle and the New Jersey Devils bench. It was stupid. It was dangerous. It was morally reprehensible.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ management has expressed in no uncertain termsthat these two perpetrators will be punished accordingly, including permanent banishment from the Wachovia Center premises. But that won’t stop bloggers and forum fanatic from dragging out the stories like the one about snowballs and Santa or the bottle rocket. Philly fans deserve better than that.
I was in the arena on Saturday evening with my father. We have season tickets in section 111, around the hash marks and directly across from the visitor’s bench. For those not intimately acquainted with the building, that section is also located directly below Mr. Snider’s personal box. That’s also the section from which the smoke bomb was launched.
PA announcer Lou Nolan spoke to the fans immediately following the incident, urging the crowd to help security find the offender: “You point him out, we’ll throw him out.” The Flyers faithful applauded that statement. The fans in my section did their very best to indicate who was at fault. And in classic Philly style, the fans brought out a cheer they normally reserve for poor officiating. It may not have been a polite expression, but the intention was right.
So what if Philadelphia fans aren’t “classy” in their demonstration of support for their teams? These people a passionate, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth bunch. A bunch who deserve a break from the constant whining about how awful Philly fans are.
But if these fans had to choose between the winning and the whining, they’d rather have the championship. Go Phillies!