As I sit here at 7:30pm on Sunday evening, having just watched the Phillies lose to the Padres in the 10th, and anxiously waiting for Game 5 of the Flyers pursuit of the Stanley Cup, I am struck by the notion that I HAVE BECOME A PHILADELPHIA SPORTS FANATIC. There. I said it. I admit it.
I have always been a sports fan. After all, I WAS a high school cheerleader. (GO RAMS!). It started when I moved back to PA from California in 2001, and began to closely follow the Eagles. I bleed green. Over the last several years, the green has also been mixed with Red, and, now Orange. There have been untold Sunday afternoons, when our windows are open, that the shouts, cheers, and groans of the Eagles fans on my street can be heard. We are ONE.
Tonight, as I sit here in my living room, along with untold numbers of the other Philly faithful, waiting for the game, I begin to feel that familiar knot in my stomach, and many begin their rituals that I have been reading about, watching the game in a certain bar or pub, wearing that "lucky" shirt, heck, even the commentators were talking about wearing their orange ties. We are hungry for that Cup. We NEED that Cup.
But why is it that we care so much? After all, the Flyers winning or losing the Stanley Cup isn't a direct reflection on us. It doesn't have anything to do with our worth as a person or how we feel about ourselves. Or does it?
In psychology, there is a name for this. It is called "Basking in Reflected Glory". This was best seen in one study where researchers measured the number of people wearing their team's apparel on a Monday morning following a game. They found that 63% wore their team's "colors" the day after a win. After a loss, it fell to 44%. "By wearing a sports team uniform, attending their games, or watching them on television, the team's successes becomes the fan's successes, and as a result, wins on the field translate into bolstered self-esteem" according to Allen R. McConnell, Ph.D. In addition to wearing their team's apparel, the researchers also found that fans tend to personalize the wins and losses. You frequently hear comments such as "WE played great yesterday!", "We really need a new quarterback" (Philly gets their wish this year!), and "We'll get em next time!".
As we approach game time, let's try to keep it in perspective. Don't drink too much, make sure you take lots of deep breaths, and remember that our team wants it as much as we do. Philly is a die-hard sports town. No doubt about it. We would love nothing more than another parade. Philly fans are like no other, whether you are in the sky box or the 700 level. As you sit through what will inevitably be a nailbiter, be sure that you remember that this is one game, it IS a game (even though we REALLY need to win), and that you still need to tuck your kids in, take out the dog, and get up for work. Tomorrow is another day. But wouldn't it be a great day if we win?
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