Behind Enemy Lines: A Philadelphia Fan’s life in New York

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was originally submitted to CrossingBroad’s Crosswalk. You can find the original post here.]

Philadelphia and New York have a long history of civic rivalry. Historically two of the most important cities in the country, both are large East Coast port cities with heavy immigrant influence, a penchant for toughness, and obviously, a love of sports.

I was born in Philadelphia, was schooled in Southern New Jersey and Philly, and attended Villanova for college. I spent the first 24 or so years of my life in the Delaware Valley. It gave me a healthy love for all things Philadelphia sports.

But this past winter, I had an opportunity to move to Manhattan for graduate school, and the offer was too significant to turn down. I picked up my things and moved to New York.

My more reasonable friends understood the move, yet sports somehow always got involved. “How are you going to deal with all those fucking Yankees and Mets fans?” That was a question I heard over and over, and it bothered me a little. No more CSNPhilly. No more tailgating at the Wells Fargo Center. No more listening to sports talk radio where an electrician from Port Richmond has opinions as well researched on the Flyer’s blue line issues as Stephen Hawking does on space-time.

I like New York. I really do. It’s a nice change of pace from Philadelphia, and for what I do (media studies) it’s probably the best place for me to be right now. However, I’d be lying to you if I said not being able to watch Flyers or Eagles games as easily as I could in Philly (watching the Phillies is just sadistic at this point) was a big bummer.

But I did find my diamond in the rough. Shorty’s, a Philadelphia themed bar with four locations in New York, has you covered. They play every Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers game live. They do their best to recreate an authentic cheesesteak (it’s not bad, seriously) and they, mercifully, have the cheapest specials I’ve come across in New York City.

But the ability to watch my team’s isn’t what this post is meant to be about.

It’s about me making the argument that at the end of the day, New York sports fans aren’t that different from us.

Painting New York fans with the same brush is kind of like saying every Philly fan throws batteries or snowballs. We know it isn’t true. It takes a little bit of deeper diving and getting to know people to get where they really come from.

One of my best friends is the biggest New York Rangers fan I’ve ever met. Greg and I have watched a bunch of Flyers-Rangers games since we first met back at Villanova six years ago. Sure, I’m jealous of the success his favorite baseball team (Yankees) has had, but in a lot of ways, the Rangers have had (until very recently) just as much of a bummer run as the Flyers have. Yes, there’s the cup in ’94, but most times, their season ends just the way ours does; with golf and no shiny silver trophy.

Sure, the Giants and the Yankees have had phenomenal successes on the field. But not everyone in the metro area likes those teams. If you live in the New York area, you’ve got nine teams to choose from in four sports. Choose wisely; don’t be stuck as a Mets-Jets-Nets-Islanders supporter if you want to win. In fact, that grouping, which is really common on Long Island and parts of Northern New Jersey, has had a less successful run than we have over the past twenty-five years. “There’s a common respect for the game, you don’t really see that in other parts of the country,” says Joey Garrett, a friend of mine who runs another sports blog, DeliverPhilly4, that you should go check out.

There are similarities. Talk to any New York fan friend you have. We’re both from East Coast cities that place value on hard work. There’s a passion for the game that goes unmatched, and of course I’d say the lean is to Philadelphia on that one (duh). But honestly, I think there are more similarities than differences between the two. Philadelphia has been in something of a renaissance culturally over the past ten years or so, and I think it’s great for the city. Philadelphia has the second largest downtown in America nowadays, second only to you guessed it, New York. The inferiority complex of Philadelphia is a lot of what fuels the rivalry, in my estimation. But as Philadelphia grows back into the important city we all know it is, I think we should be more comfortable in our own skin. Don’t hate New York for any other reason than the Giants annoy the living shit out you. That’s perfectly reasonable.

Trust me, I was still really annoyed when the Rangers were in their recent playoff run and I couldn’t get a drink at a bar without being mobbed by a sea of blue. But if you’re a reasonable person, you’ll mostly just get some friendly ribbing for your Philadelphia allegiances. New York fans, like most people on the planet, are generally friendly and really know their sports. I’ve had a bunch of fantastic sports conversations since my move here. I’d say other than Boston, you’d be hard pressed to find a city that loves their sports as much as Philadelphia does than New York.

When the Jets and Eagles face off at the Meadowlands this year in September, I’m hopeful to be in attendance. No matter how far I stray from home, I’ll always bring my teams with me. It’s just comforting to know that in the end, we’ve all got more in common than we do differences.

That said, most of this fall, I’ll be in the friendly confines of Shorty’s with my other fellow ex-pats, watching DeMarco Murray run all over the Giants defense and gleefully smiling at the screen with the knowledge that despite the fact of me being a New York resident, I’ll always be from Philly.