Dear Philadelphia…
Now, quite literally more than ever, we all miss sports. The Last Dance was a great sedative, but the yearning is seeping back into our lives with each passing hour void of competition.

This week I spoke with a ton of Philadelphians, Philadelphia sports fans, and non-Philly folks with an affinity for Brotherly Love to find out what they missed most. Surprisingly, no one missed the home runs. Not a single interviewee craved a blowout win or a slam dunk, nor was victory mentioned once.

What people miss most is the community.

So grab a Yuenger, a Yards, or a Wooder Ice (water’s bad luck) and join me in honoring the joys that make being a Philadelphia fan the greatest sports experience in the world. Without further ado, I present:

Pour One Out

Pour one out for the guy at the tailgate next to yours who pregamed a little too hard, who can finish a beer more easily than a sentence, who — in spite of everything — can still manage a vivacious “GO BIRDS” between burps.

Pour one out for the sweat dripping down your face either from the heat of nose-bleed seats in August or the anticipation of a Flyers-Penguins overtime period.

Pour one out for the ill-informed “SB LIII CHAMPS” tattoo fading under a lifetime of Ocean City tans, a symbol of unyielding fandom.

Pour one out for what keeps you glued to your seat, whether it’s a third and short in a one-score game, a penalty shootout we will inevitably lose, or just the adhesive nature of a spilled beer on a hot plastic folding chair inside the Linc.

Pour one out for the rush of endorphins at that first taste of crab fries. Sure, your friends will eat most of them and the last third will be cold in two minutes, but Chickie’s and Pete’s remains an undefeated stadium concession.

Pour one out for the Playoff Sixers, the official college boyfriend of Philly sports: all the promise and all the love, but doomed to break your heart.

Pour one out for violent Gritty. Or nude Gritty. Or both. Pour two out for nude, violent Gritty.

Pour one out for having to squint over the ticket checkers at the entrance to your section for an entire at-bat because you timed your bathroom break all wrong.

Pour one out for the security guards escorting an opposing fan out of the stadium instead of the guy in a worn-out Reebok Lito Sheppard jersey who punched them. That’s justice.

While you’re at it, pour one out for the guy in the worn-out Reebok Lito Sheppard jersey.

Pour one out for the sense of awe as your neck cranes upward, taking in the enormity of the stadium you’re about to enter a few minutes before game time.

Pour one out for smuggling hoagies into a River Sharks game (RIP).

Pour one out for the silence of the subway after a loss.

Pour one out for the chaos of the subway after a win.

Pour one out for double-fisting Wawa coffee and a Bud Light in F Lot at 9am.

Pour one out for the grainy audio of a portable radio coaxing you to sleep on a late-June night, when the weather’s hot enough to open the windows but not enough to justify turning the AC on, when Scott Franzke and an extra-inning divisional matchup became your Summer bedtime story.

Don’t pour one out for Chris Collinsworth’s dumb voice and even dumber commentary. Save that beer.

Pour one out for the emphatic crack of a bat that cuts through the murmurs of 40,000 Phanatics, the blare of a goal horn drowned out by 15,000 Gritty’s, and the electricity of “Gonna Fly Now” blasting over nearly 70,000 of the most hated fans in America. Don’t like us? We don’t care.

Pour one out for the 2004 NFC Champions T-Shirt you’re wearing under the 2017 Super Bowl Champions hoodie you’re wearing under the Wentz jersey you’re wearing because… layers?

Pour one out for the hurried shuffling through your hierarchy of friendships, weighing who to bring to the game when your #1 option inevitably bails last minute.

Pour one out for the blue train on the Jumbo Tron’s mid-inning entertainment. You got this, blue train. C’mon! C’mon blue! Let’s go! No no no! Don’t blow this! No! C’mon, you got this! Are you KIDDING ME? Red train does NOT deserve that win! Blue had the lead the WHOLE time. This is horse****!

Pour one out for DJ Reed Street’s Action News remix during Flyers warm-ups.

Pour one out for a crisp $3 Coors at Xfinity Live after Joel Embiid & Co. thrash the Celtics at home, or a not-so-crisp brown-bagged Modelo’s on Patco en route an inexplicable loss to the *checks notes* 15-50 Golden State Warriors.

Pour one out for the view of the skyline at dusk from the just-right seats.

Pour one out for getting engrossed in conversation with the person you just met sitting next to you, but then drawn back to the game in a frantic search to figure out what just happened when everyone around you erupts in cheers.

Pour one out for the neighbors you’ll never meet who, every Sunday, become your brother and sister, who you go to war with, who blindly complete the call-and-response of “GO BIRDS” regardless of who you are.

Pour one out for your family; not your siblings, but the Philadelphians that cram onto the Broad Street Line next to you, desperate to catch the first pitch; not your parents, but the Septa bus driver begrudgingly waiting an extra second for you to get a lift to your friend’s house for a Sunday doubleheader.

Pour one out for the city you call home, whether you live in Fishtown, Center City, off the Patco line, Passyunk, or Fairmount. Pour one out if you haven’t been home to Philly in twenty years, or you haven’t left the city limits your entire life. Pour one out if you say you’re from Philly even though you’re from Jersey because you don’t want to be associated with Snooki. Pour one out for every time you’ve caught yourself in a shouting match with a rando from out of town who had the audacity to trash talk your team.

Pour one out for the community you call home.

There is so much pain in the world right now, but on game day we are all Philadelphia. “Go Birds” is so much more than sports calling card — it is a unifier that goes beyond our differences. Whoever you are any other day, when you throw on your Midnight Green, you are part of something bigger.

Today, “Go Birds” means staying home, staying safe, and staying informed. The moments that bring us together are so much more important than the details that make us different.

Whenever and however sports reopen, never forget what we missed most: each other.
Now and forever, Go Birds.
Sincerely, Will

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