(The story you are about to hear is true. Only the names of the guilty have been changed.)
Philadelphia sport fans are generally religious when it comes to their teams. They will wear their emotions and allegiances proudly on their sleeve and wallow for weeks when hopes for a championship dissolve into disappointment.
They also travel well, whether that means staying loyal to their hometown teams when forced to relocate to other regions of the country or the simple prospect of traveling to other sports cities to support the Philly teams on the road. If you happened to watch any of the Philadelphia Flyers games this past weekend, you no doubt noticed the numbers of Philly faithful – both winter snowbirds and permanent transplants – taking the opportunity to see the hometown boys taking on the local Florida competition.
Of course, such is not always the case. And from time-to-time, former Philadelphia sports fans fall for the allure of a local team or the no muss, no fuss ease of jumping on the nearest bandwagon.
Sometimes you can see The Leap coming for months …
Thus, there was no real surprise recently when several familiar faces, long-time Philly residents who had relocated to points South, appeared on Facebook wearing the colors and whooping it up for the NFL successes of the local football team, the Baltimore Ravens.
To protect their identity, we will simply refer to them here as Benedict and Arnold.
You could sense a change in the familiar sports attitudes emanating from a mid-sized metropolitan area in Maryland a few years ago, when idle chitchat during a family gathering took a turn towards the off-season prospects of the Purple and Gold. No big deal at the time, as Benedict’s brother – also once a Philly sports fan – had morphed into a Ravens fan after years of Maryland living.
We took note when the aforementioned Bennie received a brand new Ravens jersey as a gift recently, the name Suggs prominently stitched on the back. And as chance might have it, Bene’s brother has a well-appointed Baltimore Ravens man-cave in his home just a few doors down from Bennie and Arnie’s version of West Point (historical point of reference; see Arnold, Benedict).
You could almost HEAR the colors changing!
So of course, a week or so ago we were treated to assorted Facebook posts showing the midst of their Raven-esque AFC Championship game festivities and the hullabaloo the resulted when the Baltimore team won and landed a berth in the Superbowl.
Not being able to remain silent any longer, I challenged Arnold on where their loyalties lie. The Answer?
“They are our ‘AFC team’!”
uh huh …
Now, I try not to be cynical.
(OK … I don’t try very hard; but I try a little.)
So immediately, I imagine all sorts of possible scenarios that play into my somewhat difficult-to-resist cynicism.
Would this phenomena occur in The Natural World, if say the ravens, notorious scavengers, unable to actively hunt to sustain themselves, were 4-12 in road-kill contests; but the eagles, proud and superior hunters, were 11-5 in superbly executed trout fishing attempts? Would fans of The Natural World be tempted into dumping the majestic eagles for road-killed squirrel-eating ravens, if success continued to favor the predator that serves as the National Emblem?
(Pardon me, I mean would they be inclined to supplement their loyalty with the raven as their designated “carrion-eating bird”?)
Back in the Sports World, I imagine I have missed many an opportunity over the years to adopt my own “AFC team”; thereby feeling free to enjoy the success and championship seasons of the cross-state Pittsburgh Steelers. After all, I could find no guidance on geographical limits to bandwagon jumping!
What if Bennie and Arnie decided they needed an additional American League baseball team? Actually , I’m surprised that hasn’t happened yet, since the Baltimore Orioles are just as geographically convenient, and they enjoyed a 14-games-over-.500 playoff season in 2012!
I just HOPE they aren’t holding out for another season before deciding they need an alternate NL East team, since the Nationals must look mighty tempting to anyone tired of waiting for the Phillies’ to work through their current rough stretch!
That would be the real dagger in the back of Philadelphia Sports Loyalty to which Bennie and Arnie still profess to cling. But once The Seal is broken, all kinds of contamination is possible!
They could insist on having another NHL team (Washington Capitals) or another NFC East team (Redskins)!
But of course, the BIG QUESTION is this …
What happens when their original home town Philadelphia Eagles and their “AFC team”, Baltimore Ravens face-off? That might be a sticky enough situation during the regular season, with that Ravens man-cave right down the street and all those Ravens lovers in such close proximity. But even worse …
What would happen if the Eagles and Ravens faced off in a Superbowl somewhere down the road?!? My doubts fester to a boil as I consider the possibilities.
I envision scenes of frequent bathroom visits to switch between the colors of one team or the other based on the state of the scoreboard!
Then it hit me!
The Answer to their conflicting emotions in such a situation … and a nice little niche market to be exploited by some enterprising merchandiser. Reversible football jerseys!
A jersey that would show the colors and emblems of one team that could be easily turned inside-out at the drop of a hat – or a change in the scoreboard – to show the colors and emblems of another!
And we will call them … Front Runners!