In 2008, Harry Kalas’ game-winning World Series call ignited crazed jubilation as the Philadelphia Phillies ended the city’s championship drought.
These days, those days seem long gone. For the first time in nearly 20 years, all four of Philadelphia’s major sports teams could miss the playoffs.
The Phillies finished this year with one of the worst records in the National League. The Flyers and the Eagles are struggling and some predict the Sixers, whose season starts tonight, will win less than 20 games.
Asked to weigh in on the sorry state of Philadelphia sports, Phil Allen, a host on sports talk station 97.5 “The Fanatic” said it’s no big deal. As much as the city hates losing, it’s used to it.
“Deep inside, if you really ask the Philadelphia fans with the proverbial gun to their head, they would tell you this is the way it’s supposed to be,” said Allen, who’s known on the air as “Phil from Mt. Airy.”
“We are a city that’s going to lose. We’re almost always going to almost win and when we get near victory it’ll be snatched away at the last moment. So there’s always a sense of foreboding here. There’s always a sense of doom here.”
That’ll likely translate into fewer people attending games, said Allen. Fans won’t stop following their favorite team on TV, but they may not want to shell out for a ticket if that team is lousy.
Allen said Philadelphia fans still want a team, coach, or player to gripe about.
“We love that stuff, whether we want to admit it or not,” he said.
Each franchise will certainly be keeping a close eye on ticket sales and revenues, but University of Pennsylvania professor Ken Shropshire said the city’s economy can survive lower attendance totals.
“Both the plus and minus of having a sports complex is that it’s not a huge economic impact location. It’s not like Center City Philadelphia and there’s this large influx of people from South Jersey that come in and stay overnight and have big meals and elaborate parties and that sort of thing,” said Shropshire, who studies the sports industry.
In the meantime, sports psychologist Joel Fish, who directs the Center for Sports Psychology, agrees with Allen: Philadelphia fans will be fine. He said they understand that being a sports fan here comes with its “peaks and valleys.”
“We’ve been through dry periods before and what goes down must come up. Because we’ve lived that, that’s really going to help us get through this period too,” said Fish.
There’s always that 2008 World Series DVD just in case.