It’s always come off as ironic, even insulting to an extent that Philadelphia is known as ‘The City of Brotherly Love’. Not because I don’t appreciate the history and tradition that goes along with the title, but because it gives the rest of the country and national media even more ammunition aimed toward a city they know so little about. Every time a story surfaces about a fight at an Eagles game or a alcohol-induced incident at a Flyers game, national pundits make sure to roll their eyes extra noticeably when they facetiously mention another black eye for ‘The City of Brotherly Love’.
Yet, while the cookie-cutter motto for the city tends to wear thin at times, every once in a while the phrase takes on new meaning. For all of its faults and retreaded stories unearthed by the rest of the country every time one of our teams is succeeding, Philadelphia’s relationship with the Flyers, Sixers, Eagles, and Phillies can be quite similar to the sort of bond that this day celebrates.
Being a Philadelphia sports fan is just like being in a committed, full-time relationship. The term, ‘four-for-four’ stemmed from those die-hards who get no time off from the roller coaster ride that is being a fan from the area. More often than not, things are fine. All of the franchises in the area do enough to put forth an acceptable product on a relatively yearly basis. One can usually be happy with the respective organizations over the course of a calendar year. There are minor bumps in the road along the way and, as we all know quite well, the payoff is not always what one would up for every year. We’re not like the spoiled fans in Boston whose ‘Stepford Wives’ like run over the last decade and a half is enough to give a Philadelphian diabetes.
The bond we share with our four teams is the type one would want to hang his or her hat on in a significant other. In the good times and the bad, our teams are dependable in the sense that they rarely surprise us. We are fortunate enough to usually be rooting for a winning product and there are few stretches where we are not at least remotely happy with what they are bringing to the relationship.
Every once in a while, one of the teams does something to shake the foundation of the relationship. Currently, the Phillies are sporting a ‘Piercing in an Unpleasant Place’-type fixture in their front office in the form of Ruben Amaro Jr. The Phillies GM took our world-class team and, in a matter of a half a decade, turned it into a crumbling mess. The organization is among the wealthiest in the sport, so eventually the ill will over the piercing will wear off, but it’s not easy to keep supporting such a questionable decision at this point.
Conversely, the teams in this city have a knack for bringing us up at the most unexpected times. In 2010, the Flyers miracle run from shootout win on the last day to Stanley Cup finalist was as welcome a surprise as any sort of Valentine’s day trinket or meal for a special occasion. Even this past year, the Eagles shed an unsightly layer of dead weight left over from the Andy Reid era, and shocked all of us when they returned to the top-of-the-line dime we had grown used to over the majority of our relationship.
What makes Philadelphia such a great sports city and helps stomach the phrase, ‘City of Brotherly Love’ is the fact that we allow ourselves to dive in to the sort of love affairs with our respective teams. We continue to deal with the disappointment that is associated with the end of almost every season. We, especially those of the ‘Four-for-Fours’, do so knowing what it feels like when one of our teams reciprocates the love we send their way. There is no energy like that associating the fanbase of a Philadelphia team during a successful run. We blow the roof off of stadiums and rattle the rafters of the Linc and Citizen’s Bank. When one of our teams is contending, the combination between the fans and the team makes for sweet music.
Being a fan in Philadelphia is far from a perfect marriage or a fairytale relationship. What we have with our teams is real and the returns, whether they are good or bad, never dictate how the team will be received over the lifetime of being a supporter. I may not always love all four of the current versions of the Philadelphia teams, but I will always love that I am, and will always be, a fan of those teams. Without anymore delay, here is a ‘Four-for-Four’ that addresses the emotional side of being a Philadelphia sports fan.