PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles headed to their second Super Bowl in six seasons on Sunday night. Fans of the celebration were stuck in traffic around City Hall and at crossroads in northeastern Philadelphia. Telephone poles were ceremoniously greased to limit victories and other spirit-inspired, vibrant but perhaps added climbs.

As the team’s battle cry says: It’s about Philadelphia.

Long accustomed to the excruciating defeats of sports teams, the proud city has given up on the idea that success is nothing more than a disaster yet to occur and finds itself bathed in relatively rare periods of hopeful achievement. increase.

The Eagles are the most dominant team in the NFL this season. The amazing Phillies reached their third World Series since 2008. The Union reached the championship game of his major league football (but lost on penalties to the Philadelphia-bred Los Angeles goaltender in typical disastrous fashion).Fast-growing 76ers seem to be his NBA contenders

Of course, sports only provide temporary distraction in a city plagued with worrisome problems like gun violence, the opioid crisis, and yawning income inequality. On Monday, police were investigating multiple shootings involving a 17-year-old boy over the weekend. Sunday night’s celebrations seemed to go crazy when video showed an Eagles fan riding on the rear bumper of an ambulance trying to help an unconscious person. Twitter feed of a local TV reporter.

But of all the things that divide communities, sports can be a unifying force, especially in this ferocious and consumed place. “It exploded like uncorked champagne,” referring to the civic liberation and marking the city’s often disgraceful sporting past. The Sixers haven’t won an NBA title in his 40 years. The Flyers are even more in arrears, winning the NHL title repeatedly in 1974 and 1975 before finally winning the Stanley Cup 48 years ago.

The Philadelphia team’s recent success evokes the sporting calendar of 1980-81, a fleeting golden age more than 40 years ago when the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers and Flyers reached their respective championships. (Only the Phillies won.) The intensity of Philadelphia’s recent sports celebrations may be disconcerting to outsiders, The Inquirer explained Monday.

Philadelphia has long been recognized as an underdog blue-collar city immortalized in 1976, the country’s bicentenary, by the Oscar-winning “Rocky.” Celluloid boxer Rocky his Balboa statue stands triumphantly outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Ray Didinger, a Philadelphia native who has been a local sportswriter, radio host and television personality for more than 50 years, laughed Monday. “Philadelphia is the only place Mattis stands behind Rocky Balboa.”

As the Eagles advanced to their first Super Bowl title after the 2017 season, fans and even some players donned dog masks to embrace the city’s underdog and ambitious spirit, each Now they validate and reflect each other. Center Jason Kelce wore a Mummers costume at the Eagles’ victory parade and chanted, “We’re from Philadelphia. Nobody likes us. We don’t care.”

But the current Eagles team won their first eight games, set a record of 16-3, including two wins in the playoffs, and were the early favorites to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. surfaced. February 12th. This team has shed its familiar cloak of underdog and embraced being strong. A quarterback and undisputed leader, his Jalen Hurts wears a bejeweled necklace that reads “Breed of One” after each game.

This raises existential questions about Philadelphia’s underlying ideas. If the Eagles win the Super Bowl again, will the city of underdogs be considered the city of champions?

Joel Fish, director of the Center for Sport Psychology in Philadelphia, who has worked with all of Philadelphia’s professional teams, said the city’s self-image is rooted in three factors and passed down through generations through oral tradition. ing.

One is that there have been so many losses here that it encourages the idea that something is certain to go wrong. Second, there is an attitude of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the city that was once the political, financial, and cultural center of the country before giving way to New York and Washington. (To Giants fans’ dismay, Empire State’s building was lit up in the Eagles’ greenery on Sunday night to celebrate Philadelphia’s 31-7 win over San Francisco.)

Third, Philadelphians feel that their passion for the sport has been misinterpreted as a rowdy aversion, and that their enthusiasm and dedication are underappreciated. After all, Santa Claus, who was infamously snowballed by Eagles fans in 1968, admitted his ragged suit and beard deserved it.

On Monday, Fish said his self-image was slowly starting to shift. First he won the 2008 World Series title for the Phillies, his first professional championship in the city in a quarter century, and then the Eagles’ Tom Brady and New England his Patriots defeats. at the 2018 Super Bowl.

The fall and winter here have yielded emotional victories in baseball, football and soccer. But Fish added that even a second Super Bowl title isn’t likely to change long-held views of the city anytime soon. He said.

“Little by little, more and more people are seeing their cups half full instead of half empty,” Fish said. “It takes a long time for expectations and beliefs to travel from head to heart.”

Many of today’s Philadelphia fans weren’t born, don’t live here, or are too young to remember a dark period in the city’s sports history. 12 lead. The Sixers gave up a 3-game-to-1 lead against rival Boston Celtics in his 1981 Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA. The struggling Eagles lost three straight in the NFC Championship Game in the early 2000s.

Many, if not most, of the most newly minted Eagles fans carry little to no baggage of distress. Instead, they are emboldened by the assumption and confidence of victory. Fan Benji Allen said the Eagles are the best team in the NFL, and last year’s blown chances didn’t make him nervous about the Super Bowl.

“It wouldn’t be living in the moment,” he said.

Joel Wolfram contributed to the report.


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