When the Philadelphia Eagles win a nailbiter on Sunday Night Football, TV crews make Philly look great.
It’s not just the shots of Michael Vick tossing bombs to DeSean Jackson or LeSean McCoy shaking Giants players out of their cleats.
It’s the shots of model-hot women cavorting in LOVE Park, and cheesesteaks frying on the grill.
Of course, when the euphoria of the win dies down, those who live here see Philly as it is.
Back to reality
The model-hot women in LOVE Park? They’re not dancing because they’re happy. They’re dancing to dodge the panhandlers.
The cheesesteaks NBC calls delicious? We call them heart attacks … with onions.
The buildings that light up like Christmas trees at night? In the daytime, they light up with grime.
But despite those realities, Philadelphia is home, and no matter how fake we look on national television, Philadelphia’s sports fans are glad to live here, because the city hosts the region’s pro teams.
Within the city limits
With all due respect to my McMansion-dwelling friends in the bucolic suburbs, there are no Abington Eagles. No Bryn Mawr Flyers. No Drexel Hill Phillies. No Tinecum Township Sixers. These teams all belong to Philadelphia, because we’ve got the grit to handle it.
I don’t say this to brag. Truth be told, Philly’s sports fans are to be pitied rather than envied. Why? Because while we’re rough and tough on the outside, we still have hearts, and our sports teams break them every year. We have to live with that. Not because we want to, but because we’re inextricably linked to the city.
Unlike those who grew up in Philadelphia while cheering for the Cowboys and Yankees, living here means something to us. It means that we’ve cast our lot with teams that routinely hurt us. I’m not talking about the kind of hurt that fans in other cities experience. No, the pain of the Philadelphia sports fan is unique.
We’ve watched our teams miss championships after releasing players like Brian Dawkins.
We’ve watched while ingesting fat-laden delicacies like scrapple, cheesesteaks and roast pork. We’ve watched while clogging our arteries with grease and anger and stress, and we’ve done it all while living near grime that’s been here since the days of Ben Franklin.
That’s why, my suburban friend, your blues ain’t like mine.
Sure, you might eat the cheesesteaks and scrapple while rooting for the Sixers and Flyers. But when the Phillies flame out with top-flight pitching or the Eagles lose their fourth NFC Championship, you get to go home and wash your hands of it all. You get to name some quaint suburb when people ask where you live. Me? I have to say I live in Philadelphia, and deal with the laughter of our rivals.
But united we (sometimes) stand
Today, however, it’s not about city versus suburbs, because this week, we’re all Philadelphians. Sure, the Phillies of old have returned; they’re eliminated from playoff contention. But with one quarter of the season over, the Eagles sit atop their division with a 3-1 record. That gives all of us hope … for now.
Don’t worry, though. They’ll do something silly and embarrass us again before long. When they do, my suburban friends, you can do something I just can’t. You can put down your cheesesteak, take off your jersey and tell everyone you’re from Abington.