One more thing about Wing Bowl

Posted: February 06, 2014

THE PHONE rang Monday.

"Are you listening to WIP?" my sister asked worriedly. "Angelo Cataldi just called you 'a bitch who needs a laxative!' "

No sweat, girl. I've been writing this column for 15 years, and I've been called worse (including the c-word by a former state senator). I will say, though, that this was my first insult (that I know of) from a sports-radio guy.

Someone rent a catering hall - I've got a milestone to celebrate!

Cataldi, WIP's morning host, hated my column about Friday's Wing Bowl - my first time attending. I described it as "a gigantic, boozy frat'n'bachelor party at a disgusting strip joint that just happens, one night, to hold an eating contest."

WIP invited me on the show yesterday morning to discuss my rant. Cataldi's biggest gripe was that I didn't make mention of the event's "good things"- like the bucks it raises for charity (which aren't even mentioned on the Wing Bowl website). This from a man who rarely balances his criticisms of sports figures with observations about their charitable endeavors.

But OK, fine. For the record: Wing Bowl has raised money for charity.

You're welcome, Angelo.

Reader Dave P., though, who contacted me after listening to the show, takes issue with WIP's method of munificence.

"They raise money for charity? Well whoopdie-do," emailed Dave. "You can raise money for charity without having a giant white-trash frat party with strippers and drunk people throwing up all over the place."

Still, WIP has the right to raise money in whatever legal way the station chooses to do it. But the end doesn't redeem the means used to get there.

My column was harsh, so I figured it would rankle Wing Bowl fans. What I didn't expect was the huge number of men - Wing Bowl's target gender - who'd write to say that they, too, find the bacchanal awful.

"Thanks for taking the radical approach of daring to say there's implications here, it [Wing Bowl] is not just all fun and games, boys will be boys, ha ha," wrote Brian Hastoglis. "It is appreciated by a lot of us out here more than you know."

Reader Henry Schireson, dad of two girls, was glad that "finally someone has told it like it is."

"Truly disgraceful and deeply disturbing that it is somehow associated with being a sports fan," said Schireson. "I am repelled by the entire orgy of eating, alcohol, sexism, and the fact that this 'event' is staged in a premier public venue and given significant coverage by the media."

Echoed John Eichorn, "Your article about the celebration of gluttony and idiocy was spot on. Just knowing it sells out depresses the hell out of me."

Sadly, some readers called the column "brave," a trait better associated with the actions of firefighters, soldiers and sports-stadium bathroom attendants.

How is it "brave" to call out beyond-the-pale crudeness? It's not as if lives are at stake. The only thing to fear is being called a stick-in-the-mud (or constipated bitch) by pervy radio jocks who gush in the presence of strippers and porn stars.

Ooooh, I'm trembling.

One reader whose gripe intrigues me is a guy long involved in Philly's strip-club industry. He talked about how club owners have to jump through hoops for permits from L&I when nudity, partial or full, is going to be evident on their premises.

"I got shut down once because I didn't have the right license," said the caller (who asked to remain anonymous because he gets "hassled enough by L&I").

He asked: Is Wing Bowl, or the Wells Fargo Center, licensed for the kind of toplessness that must be licensed at his club? Or is the event given a pass that small fry aren't privy to?

It wasn't just strippers who were (spontaneously) airing out their girls at Wing Bowl. The Jumbotron operator deliberately focused on female attendees in the stands, for a segment called "Can-Cam," inciting attendees to yell, "T-ts! T-ts! T-ts!" Once a woman flashed her breasts, the camera quickly peeled away in search of the next willing broad.

Wells Fargo spokesman Ike Richman said it was on WIP to "obtain all licenses and permits needed in connection with the use of the arena for the event."

But former L&I commissioner Bennett Levin told me it's not possible for an entity like WIP to obtain such a permit, since it's not portable to the venue where the action takes place.

When I ran this past Marc Rayfield, senior VP and market manager for CBS radio and digital (which owns WIP), he declined to comment, "Given what you learned, it sounds to me like you already have an answer."

One final word: I'm not trying to shut down Wing Bowl. I haven't the inclination. But, like Cataldi, I have opinions.


Email: polaner@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-2217

On Twitter: @RonniePhilly

Blog: ph.ly/RonnieBlog

Columns: ph.ly/Ronnie

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