“They even booed Santa Claus.”
Any sports fan that comes remotely close to reading any coverage regarding the Philadelphia sports scene is well acquainted with that line by now. Goodness, I have seen it and read it so many times that it was tiresome just to type it.
Last night, Philadelphia fans added the latest marker on their very busy timeline of derisive booing history, when they howled at their Flyers throughout the final stretch of a 1-0 decision to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Flyers put everything they could on the ice, but their efforts were only met with catcalls, well before the result was close to being set in stone.
Once again, the Philly sports scene caused a columnist to script up yet another lament over the lack of guts in the fan base. From Sam Donnellon, of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“Why? The Flyers began their Stanley Cup quest last night with a renewed sense of purpose. They dived to block pucks, dived to keep them alive, hit people with ferocity and discipline, landing in the penalty box only twice over 60 minutes of play… they were this close to the team you fell in love with last spring, the team that spent much of this season playing with the spirit displayed last night.”
“The effort was not boo-able, not in a Game 1, not after what they showed you last year and for parts of this one.”
It would be nice to think that the fans are just frustrated, but it’s not that simple. Booing has become a tradition in Philadelphia, a tradition that is celebrated and boasted upon in the streets and online. Philly fans should know, though, that they are not impressing anyone.
They aren’t impressing other cities. They aren’t impressing their teams. And they certainly are not making a positive impression on the outcome of their games.
The tradition in Philly has become an ugly, mob-mentality that buckles under pressure. It’s ugly, because it’s lazy. During and after a hard-fought game like last night, Philly fans just came across as a slew of spoiled naysayers with a sense of entitlement. They seem to believe that above all else, that they deserve better.
Deserve ain’t got nothin’ to do with it, sports fans.
In the end, what Philly deserves is exactly what it got – a locker room full of bruised players, wiping the sweat from their brow, trying to process a battle – and stuck with the sorry task that was trying to explain just what is wrong with their own fans.
“I think they were just frustrated,” Flyers defenseman Sean O’Donnell said in the losing locker room afterward. “A lot of people had questions how we’re going to respond after our February and March .”
“The fans have waited for a winner for a long time here,” O’Donnell said. “And last year teased them a little bit.”
Teased them? I think O’Donnell unconsciously nailed it, right there. Teasing does bring out the tantrums.
By all means, Philadelphia, keep on booing. You might never admit to it, but you are doing the team a heckuva lot of good.
Just not your team.