What makes Philadelphia fans different, concluded the WSJ, is simply that they care more. No argument there. The paper theorizes it is because of our "collective rootedness, " which is how a demographer - a jealous Mets fan, no doubt - describes the fact that people who grow up here tend to stay here. It even quoted the Census Bureau as proof: Only two states have a lower percentage of citizens born someplace else.
Used to be that the Philly fan was known primarily for bitterness and pessimism, with more than a soupcon of boorishness (cue Santa and J.D. Drew to offer firsthand testimony.)
But in the past four years, the Philadelphia Phillies apparently have brought out our softer side, according to the "Philly Fan Project," a survey of Philadelphia fans conducted by the Daily News with Temple University's Research Center.
With results reported yesterday, 1,576 fans were asked their views of Philadelphia sports. They said that, even though Philadelphia is still primarily a football town, the fans love their baseball team the most: 54 percent for the Phillies to 30 percent for the Eagles. And we're getting rather used to winning: Nearly three-quarters of Philadelphia fans expect the Phillies to get to the World Series (and 36 percent think they will win it all). The survey was done before the team's red-hot September that culminated in their clinching the National League East Division title on Monday at an away game in Washington. That game was even more telling evidence of Philadelphia fan loyalty: Thousands of fans in the Nationals' park - maybe most of them - were from Philadelphia, wearing red and screaming "Let's go, Phillies" as if they were on Broad Street.
The Phillies have sold out 123 consecutive home games. Compare that to the depressed attendance in much of Major League Baseball, even for winning teams like the Tampa Bay Rays.
Set to clinch their division title on Monday, the Rays drew an embarrassing 12,446 fans, leading two players to say the lack of attendance was "disheartening and embarrassing." (There were nearly as many Phillies fans in Washington in the rain Monday night as turned out for Tampa at home.) Mortified, the Rays' ownership was giving away 20,000 tickets last night so the team wouldn't end its regular season at home in isolation.
Maybe Philadelphia sports fans should have their own Latin identification: Philadelphicus Fantasticus Maximum. Identifying characteristics for the species: attytood, big hearts, white towels. *