Thursday, August 21, 2008

To Be or Not To Be.......Booed

Sorry people, I've been too busy moping around cursing the gods of life, money, knees, and home security systems to write without crying like a gymnast. It's not like there hasn't been plenty of fodder for worthy posts. No, the real problem has been a mental block when it comes to the most pressing, and vexing issue of our time: understanding the thought process of the wild Philadelphia Sports Fan: Ignorus Depressivis.

This horrid creature roams free and drinks aplenty, wears a blinding assortment of clothing, and avidly pursues violence and chaos. Some scientists argue that captivity for Ignorus Depressivis would benefit both said animal and the rest of the earth's creatures, especially those dwelling in New York and Dallas. Captivity, however, is impossible and unrealistic. What we need to do is understand IgnoDep, to try and relate to his fears, his insecurities, the habits and tendencies. This is difficult. I have full fevered IgnoDep blood coursing through my veins and yet I fail to understand how and why we do what we do. But still, a closer examination may provide some valuable answers, thus making the world a safer, more evolved place for us all.

Philly fans aren't all that different from fans in any other big city, meaning we need oxygen, water, and food to survive. Our men harass hot women. Our women like to talk. We go to work. We drink afterwards. We're largely a dumb people. We waste money, get all our ideas and opinions from the media, and hate nearly everyone and everything. We're good Americans. But when it comes to sports things get fuzzy.

If an abused child ends up becoming violent and combative, anti-social, suspicious of people, slow to open up, etc., it makes perfect sense no? The environment he was raised in helped create who he became. Well Philly fans of almost any generation, going back fifty years, have been catching wickedly consistent beatdowns, and we're unstable and irrationally angry as a result. Being twenty-eight years young I consider myself a full-fledged member of the vanguard of Philly's most miserable generation. Born in 1980, the peak year in this city's greatest sporting stretch, I was three when the Sixers paraded in 1983, the last real parade Broad St. has hosted.

My life as a fan has had a small corner store of great memories and a Mall of America worth of painful ones. Too young to remember the good ol' days and too old to get distracted by comic books and stamps(or whatever kids do these days), I'm stuck in a gray area of hell. Even the great memories have dark clouds waiting anxiously in the background. The '93 Phillies were magical all year and anybody who knows about that team knows that year can never be repeated. It was perfect. We should have won. Lightning in a bottle, career years from the entire damn team, pure magic. Until Joe Carter.

The 2001 Sixers went on a similar run, complete with hot start, the gradual realization it wasn't going to stop, the gutty playoff run, the all-world season from its best player, the long list of characters and heroes. Before Game 1 against LA I remember asking, praying really, that we win and bring joy to the city. Sadly, when we won that night I was probably closer to believing in God that I ever will be again. The cock-teasing God blew it by letting us lose the next four games, thus ending my brief relationship with him for the forseable future.

The there's the Eagles. Losing to Tampa Bay at home in the NFC Championship Game was probably the most collective anguish we've endured. Losing again the next year to Carolina was almost comedic in its predictability. Losing the next year in the Super Bowl amid maddening clock management squelched the good feelings from what had been a fun and dominant romp through the NFC.

I could go on. And on. Believe me, my tiny brain has shunned nearly all of the useful bits of information teachers and books have offered in favor of players, teams, and games, nearly all of them bad, unsuccessful, and disastrous. Reeling them off now, as I already have begun doing, will not end well.

Here's my point: Philly fans are in pain.

But it's more than that. We're angry because we look around and see championships going to every corner of the country and every type of city. Many Philly fans act tough and get off on the image we have of being crazy, obnoxious, and quick to fight. But really we're scared and insecure. Our teams never win it all. And maybe they never will. Our bravado is usually false and fabricated. But then again....

It's often real and genuine. Like I said IgnoDep is a scary beast, especially when drinking, and combined with his natural pack tendency and lack of imagination, this can result in the broken-record booing present in almost any game in any sport.

Why do we boo? Because we're angry for whatever reason, and we really don't know what else to do. It's a nervous tick. Everybody has nervous habits they do without noticing or thinking twice about. Some people scratch their ear. Others chew on pens. When I'm nervous I like to sing Hannah Montana songs, and then boo myself, but that's just me.

No, booing doesn't help. But I've stood on my feet and stomped my feet and screamed and made as much good noise as possible only to watch Ryan Howard strike out again. So maybe cheering doesn't help either. In the end I don't think it matters. It's not going to change, I know that for sure, not in this town. In fact as the Phillies continue to stumble and the Eagles lurch forward without any stud receiver, and the Sixers try to battle it out with no outside shooting, and the Flyers keep coming up short, it's very likely Ignorus Depressivis will only get more agitated, as he has for the past twenty-five years. Maybe he will evolve into a new and better fan. Or maybe he will become extinct following a prolonged NFL strike. Either way, keep both contempt and pity in your heart for this sad monster, and understand he is often disgusted by himself.