What is it like growing up as a New Jersey transplant in Philadelphia territory? 

We moved to Pennsylvania territory just before I turned three, so I have no memory of living in New Jersey. I consider myself a Pennsylvanian, but I think my parents consider themselves New Jerseyans. My whole family is essentially from New Jersey, and because of this my sports world revolved around the teams they were fans of except for the Yankees. We went to Devils games, we watched Giants games and I think I’ve even been to a Nets game. 

It may seem my brother and I were destined to be fans of these teams given our whole family essentially lived in New Jersey. But going to school, where at least 95% of of our peers were Philly fans, can be confusing for a young girl. We still have a toy Eagles football that I bought for my brother at our elementary school’s Santa’s shop because I thought he liked the Eagles. The moment he opened that gift I learned that we were not, in fact, Eagles fans. From then on, Eli Manning was my man. 

It was much easier to decipher that we were Devils fans. We went to quite a number of games, and it helps that nobody really wants to be a Flyers fan anyway. I still have my foam finger and memories of watching Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias and Zach Parise on the ice. My brother still has a Scott Gomez jersey hanging in is closet. There is no doubt who we rooted for. 

I don’t really care about basketball teams. Nets, Knicks, Sixers; I don’t care who wins. We were never really a basketball family to begin with, but my height maxing out at 5’1” is also a big factor of why I stayed away from hoops. Also, I like to believe that the gym teachers in middle school forcing us to play basketball every time they didn’t have anything planned was traumatic for little ole me. Don’t worry, going to Auburn basketball games healed my hate for basketball. I still don’t watch NBA basketball though, and I could care less about the teams around me. 

Baseball is a whole other monster, and it is mostly the inspiration for this piece.

First, let me say that my parents are Mets fans. They properly align with the teams of North Jersey in their eyes, but it is also their fault that their children are not Mets fans. I hope they’re laughing while reading this.

On May 17, 1998, they took my brother to a Yankee game. My brother and my dad are part of those 49,820 fans who saw David Wells pitch a perfect game. My brother, two years old at the time, doesn’t remember that, but it makes for a great story. They kept taking us to Yankees games for some reason, and we were hooked. 

I absolutely knew my place as a Yankee fan and demonstrated this defiance in front of my Phillies loving classmates and teachers. In sixth grade, we took a field trip to Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park. I was not happy about this because prior sixth grade classes got to go to Hershey Park, but that’s a whole other story. My teachers joked with me not to wear my Yankee stuff and the stubborn, spiteful little girl I was wore my Jeter shirt and my new Yankee hat. I will, however, admit that the Philly Phanatic is a pretty iconic mascot. 

It’s no secret that I am a competitive person, but it was a much stronger compulsion to root for the downfall of Philly teams when I was younger. As I grew, I think my FOMO softened my antics. I didn’t exactly root for the Eagles in Super Bowl LI, but I was rooting against Tom Brady, and I did take advantage of going to the parade with my friends.

I’m pretty sure I’ve attended more Phillies games than Yankees games, so in some ways I feel like an honorary seat filler. It’s a very complex relationship between me and the Phils.

Actually, it’s really not that complex. 

The only times I cheer for them are when my friends invite me to watch games and when they play teams I don’t like … such as the Astros. Every other time, I like to watch the Phillies lose and then enjoy seeing the fans crumble about that loss. I also really dislike Bryce Harper. I strongly, intensely dislike him. 

Let’s just say I’m a fan of Philly teams when it brings my friends joy. That’s a nicer way to put it. 

There also is this feeling of Philly pride. Going away to college brought out this proud feeling in me to say I was from Philly (the suburbs). I’ve lived in the same place for twenty years, so I went through the school system, grew up learning the history of the city and understand the history that comes with the teams. Just being around my friends and their families got me firsthand experience at the passion and absolute rollercoaster within the Philly fandom. 

Yeah, maybe the fans suck and you want the team to lose, but you have to marvel at the culture. People outside who don’t understand the culture of Philadelphia just whine about their behavior. The history provides the context for the culture.

Nobody else looks up at the little man standing on top of City Hall and knows that it’s William Penn. I shouldn’t have to tell you who Pennsylvania is named after, but I will tell you that Penn also coined the name, Philadelphia. Philadelphia directly translates to “City of Brotherly Love,” and the city embodies that. People might scoff at this, but to them I ask, “You’ve never fought with your brother?”

Brothers and sisters fight, but they also fight for each other. Kind of like “you’re not allowed to make fun of my sibling, but I am.” I would stand up for my brother (even though I’m the younger sibling), and he would do the same for me. Unfortunately, not every family is like that. But there are also others outside of family who you can share a brotherly bond with. 

It’s kind of a sappy sentiment, but it’s true. You can see it at the games, in the local bars and even at the schools. Like seriously, I don’t know what its like in other states, but my school was made up of a majority of Phillies/Eagles fans. Most of my teachers were fans too, so school activities would be centered on Philly sports. I remember they played the parade and highlight of the 2008 World Series while we we ate lunch in the cafeteria. 

It’s such a collective culture where the teams are built into the history of the city, so the fans have come together in support for generations. This history also means that sometimes the behavior the gets ugly. If you’re not doing something the fans like, they’re going to let you know. It’s a real tough love. 

All in all, the Philly teams are ones that I love to hate. You love ’em, you hate ’em … you hate to love ’em. They hit close to home, but I still have a vendetta to uphold.

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