The Phillies’ 2008 World Series win was an amazing moment for our adopted city. The streets exploded after a resounding, if anticlimactic, Game-Five finish. Tens of thousands of ecstatic fans streamed from Citizens Bank Park to City Hall, and Broad Street became an ocean of Phillies red and blue. Long-suffering fans overturned dumpsters, lit cars on fire and shimmied up lampposts, giving riot police their busiest night in years. For one evening, the city of Philadelphia enjoyed a feeling of thrilling solidarity. After the championship celebration, even Barack Obama’s victory a week later seemed almost like an afterthought.
The Phillies’ World Series win was also an amazing moment for Penn. During the playoffs, the Phillies’ successive victories had come to dominate campus conversation. By the evening of Game Five, campus could talk about little else, and hundreds of students sprinted downtown to join the late-night revelry. For days after, Penn was flush with Phillies pride.
The same phenomenon appears to be snowballing this year. So long as baseball season lasts — and the victories persist — it seems Penn has finally found a team to call its own.
Sports teams fill an important role in any college environment, pulling a wide range of students together in support of something they hold in common. In my own home state, support for the University of Georgia Bulldogs creates a bond that runs through every segment of the campus community. This hasn’t recently been the case at Penn, leaving a void that the Phillies have begun to fill — and inspiring a whole host of fresh fans in the process.
According to College senior Fan Zhou, a casual supporter who’s grown to watch Phillies games more and more frequently, “I think it’s a little bit of a shame that the school athletic pride isn’t as intense as it is at some other colleges across the country. I think that being a fan of the Phillies and going to Phillies games gives you a better appreciation for the city of Philadelphia, and there may even be some spillover that feeds back into an increased school spirit here at Penn.”
Lifelong Phanatic and College junior Eric Dein shares this view. In his words, “The Phillies have brought the school together much more than any of our own sports teams. There is energy around campus for every game.” However, he also has his share of criticism for some of the “phair-weather fans” that sudden success attracts.
“For me, 2008 and 2009 are extra-special after watching the team struggle for two decades. I’ve talked to ‘fans’ who did not watch the playoff games last year, but who used the excuse to riot downtown and party harder,” says Dein. New fans would do well to get educated about their school and city’s team of choice — and not to drop their allegiance the moment the going gets tough.
And it will get tough. Last year, it was easy for campus to get behind the Phillies when their competition was the Tampa Bay Rays. This year, things are different. A whole lot more Penn kids hail from the New York area than southern Florida, which will make the atmosphere tense — somebody’s team has got to lose come November, and nobody wants it to be his.
According to diehard Yankees fan and College senior Lee Crain, “I enjoyed seeing the Phillies win the World Series, but my loyalties lie with my first love.”
Starting tonight, the Philadelphia Phillies will vie for their second World Series championship in two years, and the Yankees will look to recapture glory after what has been (for the franchise) a long drought. While the outcome of this contest is anything but certain, we can be certain of the important place the Phillies have come to hold in campus life. For the moment, Penn has found its team — and the Phillies have found a new wave of Phanatics.
Emerson Brooking is a College junior from Turnerville, Ga. and a member of the UA. His email address is email@example.comComments powered by Disqus
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