I'm intrigued by those surveys and opinion polls that determine "The City with the Most Beautiful People" or "The Smartest Towns in the U.S." Mostly because I find it hard to believe that there are more beautiful people in Pasadena, California than in Des Moines, Iowa. Either they're not looking hard enough or they have an odd definition of beauty.
Those sorts of surveys try to link people with the city they live in. It's a nice idea, but it strikes me as hogwash. Like the idea of "Southern Hospitality" or "Midwestern Charm." If you come to Philadelphia and are treated well, you're supposed to be surprised. Sports fans have an identity too, whether we like it or not.
The Phillies lost the World Series Wednesday night. Being a Phillies fan, I'm supposed to be devastated. I'm not, but that's because I treat sports as entertainment. Like a movie or a TV show, I find that I can distance myself from the proceedings because I'm not directly involved. If the game entertains me, I'm happy.
Fans from Philadelphia are supposedly hostile, tough and passionate. That's true of a lot of cities in the northeast. We have a reputation for boorish behavior that tends to indict us all for the actions of a few, and that's ... well, it's probably true, but still...
We are identified with the teams we affiliate ourselves with. That's an odd notion, since our birthplace or residence makes us a fan of a team more than anything else. Subsequently, when the team we like wins, we become winners. When they lose, we're losers. You could earn $100,000 and drive a Porsche; if the Phillies lose, you're a loser too.
Now, we're subjected to ridicule from Yankees fans because "their team" beat "our team" in the World Series. One co-worker recently declared that "all is right with the world again" because the Yankees had won.
To go along with that notion, fans often use the term "we" when they're talking about the team, as though they were involved somehow. Other than paying for a ticket or watching the game on TV, they had nothing to do with it. Yet they still proclaim, "We won!" I guess it gives them some sense of self-worth that they can't get from their family, job or hobby. It's kind of sad that some people place such a high value on something that they have no control over.
When the Eagles lose, there's a region-wide gnashing of teeth and loss of sleep over a football game. Sometimes the fans take the loss harder than the players. That's odd. It's all fun and games until you start to take it personally, then it's more like a psychosis. I wonder if they make a drug to treat a loss of erection brought on by football?
So here I am, loser Phillies fan, about to take a year's worth of abuse from Yankees fans for something that somebody else did. Well screw 'em. I'm not changing my profile photo and I'm not giving up my season tickets.
Besides, whether the Phillies won or lost, I still have to get up at 5:30, schlep to work, pay my bills and find a reason to do it all over again the next day. I think that's harder than beating the Yankees.