Living in a Sports-Obsessed City When You Are Not Sports-Obsessed
I moved to Philadelphia after living in various parts of suburban and rural Pennsylvania. There were always sports fanatics where I lived, but it did not consume the area. After relocating to Philadelphia, I wondered how that transition would work out, not just because it was my first time living in a large city, but also because sports are such an important part of the city culture. Philadelphia has a reputation for die-hard fans of each team: the Eagles, the Flyers, the Phillies, and yes, even the 76ers. Although I can watch sports and generally understand what goes on in the game, I am not obsessed with any particular sport and do not seek these games out. I do not have "my team" and I do not own any sports jerseys. So how would I fare in a city that bleeds green?
Philadelphia is full of people who are passionate about this metropolis, and that makes all the difference.
Four years later, it has become an endearing quality. Yes, we can claim to be the home of many super fans, but I constantly see neighbors and commuters with clothing from other sports teams. I have not seen anyone harassed because of this. I have yet to learn when games are on and who is playing what team, and I certainly did not realize that the draft happened (or is happening?) recently. However, I did finally go to a sports bar in Philadelphia during a football game and it was genuinely enjoyable. I can root for whatever team the group is rooting for, and when everyone is yelling together, there is a great sense of community. And that’s where I see the value in living in a city with a strong commitment to its sports teams. Caring for sports teams is a symptom of a population that also deeply cares for the city as a whole. When we cheer for the home team to win, it is also a cheer for the city itself to succeed.
Sure, Philadelphia may get a bad rap at times for being angry, but after living here for four years, my interactions with cheerful helpful people have far outweighed anyone who is outright rude or angry. We may commiserate and complain, but in the end, Philadelphians all want excellent public schools, fantastic restaurants, spectacular art and cultural experiences, high employment rates for all neighborhoods, and of course, victorious sports teams. So, we may still be a work in progress on some of these things, but so is every city. Philadelphia is full of people who are passionate about this metropolis, and that makes all the difference. A strong team spirit may be intimidating, but don’t let that scare you off from this feels-like-a-college-town-but-is-actually-a-large-city place.
I still do not have a favorite professional sports team, but I look forward to hanging out with friends and cheering on any of our teams…and the awesome food at sporting events helps, too.