The NFL draft was held in Philadelphia and over 70,000 fans booed NFL Comissoner Roger Godell early loudly and often. This should hardly come as a surprise since Goddell is often booed in public, but Philly Fans have a special relationship with bad behavior.
When it comes to who has the worst behaving fans in all of sports, Philadelphia is alway at the top of list. There are other cities deserving of the title/blame, (Boston immediately comes to mind) and while bad fan behavior needs to be reprimanded across the board, Philadelphia does have several moments that seem to stand out.
First let’s start, nearly fifty years ago, with the infamous booing and snowballing pummeling of Santa Claus during halftime of a Eagles game. I had always thought the story to be more urban legend than anything, but alas it was real.
In 1968 the Eagles were a bad team, set to possibly get the #1 pick in the upcoming draft. However, the team won its next to last game and at halftime appeared set to win again knocking them out for the rights to choose college football’s best player, O.J. Simpson. Santa Claus engaging with the team’s cheerleader’s received the brunt of the fan’s frustration, first by being booed and then pelted by a barrage of snowballs. Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus, but he may never visit Philadelphia again.
Other boorish behavior has continued throughout the years. Fighting in the stands or even throwing batteries at opposing players is not unique to Philadelphia (my very first New York Yankee game I sat in the right field bleachers and witnessed various fans throwing D batteries at the Baltimore Oriole right fielder and accidentally/intentionally spilling beer on him when he neared the outfield wall.)
Any city in which the hockey team is nicknamed the Broad Street Bullies, (the Flyers teams in the seventies) should be expected to be a tough bunch. Philadelphia fans are alleged to have booed the United States first recipient of a hand transplant for failing to reach home plate while throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Tough is one thing but a 2010 episode that occurred at a Phillies baseball game is another. Then 21 year old Matthew Clemmens was arrested for vomiting on an 11 year old girl…and yes you read that correctly.
Off duty Easton, Pa. police captain, Michael Vangelo was at Citizens Bank Park with his 11 year old and 15 year old daughters. He complained of two drunk patrons using excessive profanity and spitting at he and his daughters. One of those patrons was escorted out of the park. Minutes after his friend left, Matthew Clemmens was accused of intentionally putting two fingers down his throat and trowing up on Vangelo and his 11 year old. As you can imagine a scuffle resulted and when the police arrived Clemmens was further accused of fighting with the police and throwing up on them.
I am not singling out Philadelphia and its fans because they are somehow unique to bad behavior. Unfortunately they are a microcosm sampling of the mixture you get when passion, and frustration are mixed with enormous amounts of alcohol. Sporting events that are supposed to be fun, all too often bring out the worst in people, which is ironic in that sports is supposed to represent the best and what is good.