ESPN’s Disdain for Philly is Confounding
I understand that Philadelphia, like other major markets, is a polarizing city.
We have our fanbase and a natural base of detractors. However, how many other cities can claim the pure disdain from the preeminent voice in sports like Philadelphia can?
First, I think I should put my voice on this in context.
In last night’s Flyers and Capitals game, the Philadelphia fanbase grew irritated by the blowout nature of the game and they threw the free giveaway wristbands down onto the ice and drew a 2 minute minor penalty for the Flyers as a delay of game penalty.
For starters, yes, this is a stupid thing for the fanbase to have done. It was immature and emotional, as it was an embarrassing display of our city. This is not a matter of defending the city’s actions, as it was a poor display of maturity.
This discussion is instead a look into the way in which this city is reviewed and looked upon by the national media. As the primary national reporter for everything sports, ESPN leads the charge for the Philly disdain.
Here are some snippets from the ESPN article on the Flyers/Capitals game:
Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds raised his hand toward the crowd and pleaded with fans to stop hurling the colorful bracelets on the ice…
The Philly fans refused to listen and pelted the ice with the giveaways at seemingly the same rapid rate Washington was scoring goals…
I would like to point out a few choice words used when describing this event, ‘pleaded with fans’, ‘hurling the colorful bracelets’, ‘refused to listen’, and ‘pelted the ice’. To top it off, adding in the knife twist of the rapid rate of scoring goals was a low blow but not uncalled for as it was a route.
However, I am of the opinion that this language was chosen very carefully to describe the events that happened in Philly in a negative and derogatory light. Again, I am not defending the actions taken last night, as I am embarrassed as a Philly fan for it, but the light Philly is constantly cast in is infuriating.
This is not an isolated incident in the NHL.
ESPN reported on this EXACT same situation (replace colorful bracelets with toy rats) on April 1, 2016.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the snippets from this story:
Fans were throwing the rats onto the ice despite warnings not to do so. New Jersey didn’t score on either resulting power play…
But with 10,000 of them handed out before the game Thursday, there was concern that they might get thrown early. Turned out, that concern was far from unfounded.
Our guys battled hard and we love our fans and we love the rats, but I hope that doesn’t happen again.
Notice anything missing from these quotes? How about the lack of such descriptive terms as pleading with fans to stop, hurling the toys onto the ice, refusal to listen, or pelting of the ice. Instead, there were subtle warnings and an acceptance that this was bound to happen as the team gave away 10,000 prior to the game. To top things off, this was a close game! The Panthers won 3-2, so receiving 2 penalties because of the fan’s actions was monumental to a playoff team’s chances.
Now, there is a chance that this is being somewhat glossed over by the national media because Florida does not have a large market, or because Florida Panthers don’t move the needle nationally one way or the other so why waste the time throwing digs at the fan base.
Instead, let’s look at how ESPN reports on other fan bases. The L.A. Dodgers have critically injured fans, killed people, and been generally terrible. However, ESPN’s reporting of this team looks as such:
However, witnesses told the Los Angeles ABC affiliate that the fight took place between Dodgers and Mets fans and that the injured party was a Mets fan. They said the man was punched and then fell, striking his head.
The incident is drawing comparisons to the beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, who was disabled from brain damage suffered in an attack on Opening Day 2011 in a stadium parking lot outside Dodger Stadium.
This reporting is just that, a reporting. The story presented facts, drew from an actually similar situation, and did not delve into speculation or false criticism of the city. The act was abhorrent, but ESPN did not chastise the city for the act of a few terrible people.
Meanwhile, ESPN reports stories like this, saying “Wearing a Cowboys jersey in certain sections of the Linc will almost guarantee you a fistfight.”. For clarity, this was written in 2008, so it is not exactly up to date, but it is a common sentiment cast upon the city from ESPN. In fact, in the video recap of the Flyers/Capitals game, the ESPN personality even says “Philadelphia known as a fighting town, but come on”.
You’re right, Philadelphia is known as a fighting town, but cities like Dallas, Dallas, Dallas (yes, I am an Eagles fan but please don’t tell me ESPN is fair and balanced when reporting on Dallas), Detroit, New England, Boston/New England, and New York.
I’ll take it one step further, because I am sure the response to this type of talk is that there are so many more incidents isolated in Philadelphia and that Philly embraces the personality. While this is untrue, let’s then isolate things down and see how another location embraces the way in which they are portrayed.
ESPN personalities that have been arrested for poor behavior include, but are certainly not limited to, Jay Mariotti, Britt McHenry, Jeremy Green, and Jalen Rose. Even Charles Barkley, yes a 76er at the time, spit on a little girl while playing and he is adored by ESPN.
Think ESPN doesn’t embrace this atmosphere when they trot Jalen Rose out there before every NBA game?
Nah, they will just send out a couple more references to snowballs at Santa and continue to rehash stereotypes about our city that have perpetuated for far too long based on our city’s actual actions.
Yes, last night never should have happened. It is embarrassing. But the disdain falling down on our city and fanbase is ridiculous. It’s time to put things back into perspective.