When being a Philly sports fan is more than “being a fan”

The last time we had this feeling was 2018 when the Philadelphia Eagles were en route to their first Super Bowl win. Philadelphia and the outskirts of the city (Delaware, South Jersey, etc.) were just radiating with optimism and this positivity in the air.

Now, we have that again with the Phillies making the World Series for the first time in ages.

After reading Stephanie Farr’s article about what the Philly community taught her about sports fandom, I felt inspired to talk about my weird entrance into the sports industry and how sports saved me – especially Philly sports during the pandemic.

Like Farr, I was never really into sports. Yes, I grew up in a divided football household (my mom is a Washington fan and my dad is a Philly fan) I was always aware of the importance of Sunday afternoon games. Naturally, I chose to be an Eagles fan because they pretty much always beat Washington (sorry, mom.)

A year before the Super Bowl year, I was in high school, I was more interested in football.

Having spent the last two years of my high school career as the Bobby Boucher of my varsity football team, I naturally wanted more involvement with football. It was easier to follow the games on a national level because of what I saw on my high school football team.

A year and a few months later, I saw a city come together for a (hopefully not) once in a lifetime parade. That’s where I knew being a Philly sports fan is more than just “being a fan.”

Standing in a pile of green and white confetti during the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Parade. February 2018. (Jennifer McGraw)

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a Philly sports reporter, but I did realize that the Philly sports community is the first place I felt like I belonged.

Maybe it’s because I had grown up with it? Maybe it’s because “Go Birds” became a second form of expression, communication and connection?

Whatever it is, once I submerged myself in the Philadelphia sports world, I never felt more accepted without a second thought. It didn’t matter who I was or what I looked like, what mattered was my passion and dedication for my sports teams.

Truthfully, there’s no other city who celebrates its sports teams successes. Name another city that has to grease its poles to anticipate the city streets flooded with happy, cheering, crying-happy-tears fans.

Then, when you’re reporting on the team and providing the good and bad about all teams (because there really has been in recent years), there’s something special in watching the teams thrive.

Jennifer McGraw chatting with Philadelphia Eagles veteran Brandon Graham. September 2021. (Jennifer McGraw)

Furthermore, you get to connect with fans and do what you love while giving them what they want to know. Philly fans aren’t dumb, they see right through disingenuity.

But what’s most special about being in the Philly sports community is that you’re apart of something bigger than yourself.

When the team wins, the whole city wins. When the team loses, the whole city feels heartbreak. But for a lot of people, myself included, it’s a chance to escape the negative in the world, or even the community, and to be in a family of people who want nothing more than for their sports teams to succeed.

Being apart of the Philly sports community is wholeheartedly like being in one big family. I suggest you try it while we’re accepting bandwagon fans for the Phillies World Series run.

Jennifer McGraw posing with Philadelphia Eagle, Avonte Maddox during the Change Our Future Sneaker Ball event. December 2021. (Jennifer McGraw)

Go Phils. Go Birds. Go Sixers. Go Flyers. Go Union.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: