As I was scrolling across social media this morning, I came across a story about tonight’s NFL playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles. The basic storyline was that a reporter from New Orleans who covers the Saints thought it would be a cool idea for Saints fans in Philadelphia for the game to organize a ‘Rocky Run.’ According to articles on the matter from NOLA.com the run was “intended it to build camaraderie among New Orleans Saints fans traveling to Philadelphia for Saturday’s NFC wild-card playoff game against the Eagles.”
In response to this the local Philadelphia area Eagles fans took to social media with enough threats of violence to prompt the run to be cancelled for fear of public safety and for local police to go undercover as Saints fans.
What happened to the “City of Brotherly Love?” What exactly about a ‘Rocky Run’ by Saints fans upset the Philadelphia public to threats of violence? I understand that Rocky is pretty popular in Philly, but being someone who was raised in the Texas, I don’t have a meltdown anytime someone not from my home state mentions to “remember the Alamo.”
To be fair, I’m sure that the people who made the threats represent a minority of the general Philadelphia sports fan population. I’m sure that there are plenty of Philadelphia citizens that have no problems with the idea of the run (note: while writing this, I’ve received messages via social media confirming this).
Look, I love my sports teams. I wear my team’s jerseys to the games, and I engage in some good natured ribbing of folks wearing the opponent’s jerseys. But I’ve never had it escalate to the point of physical violence. On the occasions where the fun jabs got even remotely serious, I would offer to buy the fan of the opponent a drink, and take the opportunity to make a new acquaintance. More often than not, it ended with a new perspective and a new friend gained through a sport we both love.
The NFL has had too many instances where violence occurred at games in recent memory. Fans too often get harassed, threatened and beaten for having the audaciousness to wear opposing colors in a stadium. As alternatives for to going to the game gain popularity and lack of attendance issues threaten blackout issues for games, this is a problem the NFL doesn’t need. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything the league can do about these types of fans. The only solution is for the fans to police themselves, and make it known that while we all love our teams that there is no room for that type of behavior in sports.
As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.