What a time to be a sports fan in Philadelphia.
With several teams enjoying streaks of success lately, this season is sure to be one for the history books. Not only did the Phillies qualify for the World Series for the first time in 13 years, the Philadelphia Union made it to the Major League Soccer Championship, the Philadelphia Flyers got off to a strong start to the season and the Eagles are currently undefeated.
And true to its name, the City of Brotherly Love has come together to show overwhelming support for their beloved athletes. A plethora of heartwarming videos have circulated on social media, showing Phildelphians experiencing pure joy as they raise their fists after each win and huddle together with cheers, hugs and tears of joy.
“At the end of the day I really feel like being a sports fan connects you to the people and city around you and gives you something to believe in,” said Wharton Junior Leigha Jackson. “Growing up outside of Philadelphia, my community shared the ups and downs of Philly sports. I vividly remember how much the energy of the city changed when the Eagles won the Super Bowl, and it paid off through the years of support, loss after loss.”
Even for those unaware of the latest scores, it’s difficult to resist the contagious euphoria seeping through the city. You may have seen a plethora of fans decked out in team merch dancing in the streets in celebration. Maybe you’ve heard the unofficial Phillies anthem “Dancing on My Own” too many times. Or maybe you’ve noticed a drop in urban crime that’s suspected to correlate with those sporting victories.
Regardless of your individual experience, there is no doubting the power of sport to unite citizens and inspire joy, making this a positive unifying experience that we should all be a part of.
“I would be lying if I said I understand what each penalty or technicality means, but I don’t think you have to fully and completely understand a sport to be a fan,” Jackson added. “It’s such a powerful feeling to be able to support your city and have something to look forward to and believe in and I really think sport has the ability to unite people like nothing else.”
With the significant social and political polarization pervasive in America, it’s hard to find things to celebrate these days. There is a palpable level of political tension, especially as citizens await the results of Election Day. Every election naturally creates divisions and debates, but Pennsylvania’s status as a swing state serves to reinforce this. It is more important than ever to learn about candidates and vote in elections, but we must not give in to a world of disconnect. It is fortunate, then, that this contentious period coincides with the excess of Philadelphia pride, as sport is neutral ground that warrants nothing but support and celebration.
However, this exhilaration shouldn’t just be reserved for Philly teams. It’s important to extend this sense of camaraderie to Penn, where an increased level of school pride would bring students together and boost athletes’ morale.
Supporting our student-athletes is critical to building a sense of community and recognizing their hard work and dedication. Sports are a big part of college life, but Penn often lacks game days and school spirit.
Wharton sophomore Davis Ellis, a sophomore on the varsity football team, said, “Knowing that we have the support of our classmates, teachers and the rest of the Penn community is a tremendous confidence booster. We devote a lot of time to our sport and when we have spectators there on match day the atmosphere for competitions is all the more exciting.”
So it’s important for the Penn community to show our support. Although Penn Football has a strong team culture, their success also depends on their audience. Cheering on the football team or any of Penn’s 31 collegiate sports benefits both the spectator and the athlete. Whether you compete in a different sport or have no athletic knowledge, supporting our teams makes a significant contribution to the Penn community while giving athletes the confidence they need to succeed.
We therefore urge you to grab your friends, parents or yourself and support our teams. Men’s basketball meets Drexel on Tuesday and West Virginia on Friday, and women’s basketball plays at Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday and Villanova on Thursday. Fencing will be fought at home this Saturday, while many other sports such as soccer, swimming, squash and women’s cross country will take place off campus. Make sure to tune in live and broadcast virtual support, or better yet, take advantage of the state’s locations on a short road trip! Check out the sports calendar for a full list of teams competing each week.
Change Emily is a college junior studying communications in Holmdel, NJ. Your email address is [email protected].
ANNIE BINGLE is a freshman college student from Connecticut. your email is [email protected].