ESPN Radio host Matt Hammond contributes to this site from time to time with his opinions on things. In the wake of the Lions fan story, which saw more outrage directed at the accuser than the nameless fans who reportedly beat him, this is Matt’s opinion – his plan – on how to stop the negative Philly fan stereotype.
So let me get this straight: Person A does dumb thing. Person B takes notice, and talks about it on his newspaper or talk radio or TV station or blog, in a way that’s unfavorable to residents of the city where Person A lives. And that city takes issue with… Person B?
This is the way it’s been for 30 years here. Idiots act like idiots at Philadelphia sports venues. Lazy, predictable national media types do what lazy predictable national media types do: reach as closely as possible for the easiest and simplest and most convenient storyline. And yet, Philly’s problem is never with the guy who pukes on a cop’s daughter at a Phillies game. Or gets tasered after a jog in center field at Citizens Bank Park. Or, as has been reported, beats the piss out of a Lions fan at the Eagles “Snow Bowl” win on Sunday. Never.
There’s got to be a better way.
I understand the frustration with the national media. Real or perceived, to the average Philly sports fan, it feels like they’re, at best, unable to see how often incidents like these occur EVERYWHERE, at worst, going out of their way to take pot shots at big, mean Philly, a city whose people are far better than they’re being labeled.
What I don’t understand is how that frustration dwarfs, my multiples of bazillions, the frustration with the idiots in Philly sports gear perpetrating the acts. Re-read that. Not Philly sports fans. Idiots in Philly sports gear. Remember that. They’re not you. And they’re the problem– the ones who bring this on you, repeatedly.
Yet, when it comes to dialing sports talk radio and blowing up Twitter and posting feverishly on message boards, the idiots perpetrating the acts — and perpetuating the stigma — are a complete afterthought. Completely forgotten about.
So here’s an idea, some words of encouragement and empowerment for a fan base that’s taken too much crap for too long: if you want to take back the stigma, rewrite the national narrative, and overhaul the culture of your pro sports stadiums: from now on, spend not a fleck of energy bellyaching about the national media and anything they say.
Instead, save all that energy for idiots in Philly sports gear who perpetrate the incidents and create the material.
Make THEM public enemies No. 1.
Heckle THEM at stadiums, for throwing beers and profanities at wives, girlfriends and kids in opposing jerseys.
Blow up talk radio with rants about THEM, for taking all-in-good-fun shenanigans to an inappropriate, violent, levels.
Let Twitter know how exhausted you are with THEM, for creating and furthering a reputation that they refuse to let fade.
Furiously post on message boards about… THEM.
Do these things, and you disarm the idiots, and, just maybe, change the perception.
For a faux tough guy with cut-off t-shirt whose existence is no greater than boozing and brawling at sporting events he has no business attending, either because he doesn’t have a well paying enough job, too many bastard children or both, this is what he lives for, his life’s pinnacle. He also thinks this makes him A-Plus Members of The Club.
So how do you get him to stop? By letting them know that this is a kick-you-out-of-the-club-able offense.
There’s no reason to protect him. In fact, failing to create distance between the rational, reasonably educated Philadelphia resident who happens to really enjoy the city’s sports teams and, um, them, may be part of the reason the stigma is so sweeping and everlasting.
Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t.
But even if it doesn’t change the national perception, or stop idiots from being idiots, at least you’ll have some consolation: giving the real sources of the problem hell for creating and perpetuating it.
You can follow Matt Hammond on Twitter (@MKH973).