Sports support group helps Phillies fans cope with World Series loss

Those taking part in the peer support group at Bridget Foy's were (left to right) Charles Paul, Ann Lalicker, Melanie Kisthardt, Bill Lalicker, Jon Mozes, and the event organizer Clancy Philbrick. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Those taking part in the peer support group at Bridget Foy's were (left to right) Charles Paul, Ann Lalicker, Melanie Kisthardt, Bill Lalicker, Jon Mozes, and the event organizer Clancy Philbrick. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

It’s been a rough week for Philadelphia sports fans after becoming the first city to lose two major sports championships in one day.

A support group gathered on South Street Thursday, focusing on Phillies fans, finding common ground in the highs and lows they experienced during the team’s World Series run.

Phillies fans were in a wild ride during the playoffs this year, from just making it in the first place to winning the Pennant, poles were greased, drinks were had, and it felt like the party was just getting started.

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After missing out on the World Series to the Houston Astros, fans have been looking for an outlet to process the emotions of defeat, while trying to look on the bright side of the season.

Studies have shown a person’s mood can be affected by sports fandom — that’s where Sadboy Fanatics steps in. The “traveling support group for sports fans” hosts group sessions for fans to express frustrations, but also introduce them to mental health practices to normalize safe ways to process emotions.

Sad Boy Fanatics hosted the Phillies peer support group at Bridget Foy’s on Nov. 10, 2022 to help fans cope with the recent loss in the World Series. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Clancy Philbrick is an artist and mental health curriculum designer behind the organization.

“It allows them to practice strategies not only for when their favorite sports team loses, but also if down the road or even in the moment they’re processing other difficult emotions or dealing with stressful things,” Philbrick said. “They might think back on this and remember a certain approach or prompt to deal with these emotions.”

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Jon Mozes was at Game 5 of the World Series when the Phillies lost by one run. He recalls not being able to move once the final out was called. He said Thursday’s event helped him cope with the loss.

“I think that connection between, you know, strategies you might gain through therapy or through other mental health exercises, with the opportunity to sort of talk it out loud and share in your grief with somebody else is pretty valuable,” Mozes said.

Charles Paul was following the Philadelphia Union’s season, including the loss to LAFC following a tense back-and-forth match ending in penalty kicks.

He said for him and other men, talking about sports usually acts as a venue for mental health sessions, but Thursday’s event was a great way to pick up some new tactics for improving one’s mental health.

“To actually use real mental health strategies and relate it to sports might be a good window for other aspects of your life.” Paul said. “There is never a wrap up that’s really concise, so this was nice to kind of just close the book and the window on it.”

Baltimore was the site of another Sadboy Fanatics group session following the end of the Orioles season in early October. Philbrick said he wants to host more events nationally.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. The hotline is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors who can offer free, confidential support. Spanish speakers can call 1-888-628-9454. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 1-800-799-4889.


Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misspelled Jon Mozes’ name, as well as the name of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.

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