Congrats to the Hoosiers! They're onto the Sweet 16 for the first time in three years.
And now their next leg of the tournament takes place in none other than the city of Philadelphia.
As someone whose family originally is from South Jersey, went to undergrad in the Philly area, and is still a fan of all four terrible professional sports teams in the city, I feel not just honored, but obligated to tell you about this place, which totally doesn't have an inferiority complex compared to New York or DC, no not at all.
This city was originally founded along the Delaware River in 1682 by William Penn, whose one stipulation when founding the city was that it not be placed in the same territory as Rutgers. Later on, Philly was the home of noted beer-loving, kite-flying inventor Benjamin Franklin. He hated the English Stamp Act so much that he gathered his fellow citizens of his colony together. At the top of their lungs, they all booed the Stamp Act so loudly that people in England could hear them. The growing boos towards England were heard all across Philly and resonated throughout the 13 Colonies, so they gathered in Philly to draft the Declaration of Independence, which is one large piece of paper that is addressed to King George that just has one word in really large print:
And there you have it. British soldiers were so scared off by the loud boos originating from Philadelphia that America easily won the Revolutionary War and became an independent country.
The East Region will be held in Wells Fargo Center. Yes, I know the Hoosiers played their first two games in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, and now they're moving onto the Wells Fargo Center. Talk about starting a credit union and creating a community, am I right! Over its 20-year existence, the Wells Fargo Center has been renamed more times than a Kanye West album, first originating as the CoreStates Center, then moving on to First Union, Wachovia, and now Wells Fargo, before a few years from now when the sponsorship changes over to the Every Single Bank Merged Together Center. But hey, at least things went pretty well the last time the Hoosiers played UNC in Philly during the NCAA Tourney.
So you want to eat something while you're in Philly huh? Great! How about I take you to a great deli in town? It's called Wawa, and it's also a gas station chain! In every Philly suburb, you can find a Wawa, with its touch-screen hoagie orders. People from Pittsburgh or Western PA will claim that Sheetz is better but they are wrong and I will fight them for this. Philly pride is on the line here folks.
But seriously, why not head down to South Philly and get yourself a cheesesteak? Nothing like a famous Philly cheesesteak from a place like Pat's or Jim's (but not Geno's). These cheesesteaks are made with the freshest ingredients, like a hoagie roll, thinly cut steak, and of course...
That's right. CHEEZ WHIZ. Sure, Indiana gets a bad rap from other places for its love of mayo and ranch but let's face it - Philly's culinary staple is filled with CHEEZ WHIZ. And you best order your cheesesteak Whiz Wit or else you end up looking like a dork like Scott Walker during his ill-fated Presidential campaign last summer.
Want something to drink with your Whiz Wit? Make sure you ask for a wooder. No, not water. It's pronounced "wooder," okay?
THE LOCAL TEAMS
Ahh yes, let's get to the sports media's most famous whipping boy - Philly Sports Fans. They throw batteries! They boo injured players! THEY ONCE THREW SNOWBALLS AT SANTA! Look, every city has its bad apples, and Philadelphia is no exception. And I frequently get upset when fans in other places try to single out Philly as being this cesspool for BAD FANDOM when in reality it exists in every place. That being said - Philly fans go out of their way to uphold this reputation like it's some twisted rite of passage, more so than any other place. After all, these are fans who also believed there was a curse on the sports teams after the first skyscraper was enacted in the city in 1987 because it was built higher than the statue of city founder William Penn that sits atop City Hall. In fact, the old Veterans Stadium even had a jail below it in order to hold unruly fans sitting in the infamous "700 Level" (which is also the name of a major local sports blog). And do you think Midwest sports talk radio is bad? Well take for example what happened in the 1999 NFL Draft, when a local radio host organized a group of fans to boo when Donovan McNabb was picked, because he wanted Ricky Williams instead. And while McNabb was a decade-long consistent starter in Philly whereas Williams had a very erratic career, some fans still hate McNabb because he puked during the Super Bowl.
But, can you blame Philly fans for being mad right now? Let's look at the pro teams in this city. First, the Phillies are coming off a reign of incompetency under Ruben Amaro, who took them from a 100-win season to a 99-loss season in just four years. Now that he's gone the Phillies are very excited to embrace analytics to their club, something Amaro despised. This is great and all, but Moneyball came out almost 15 years ago now, and the other 29 MLB teams all have a big headstart. The Eagles hated the Chip Kelly drama and longed for the Andy Reid salad days so much that that they fired Chip, replaced him at coach with Reid's top assistant in KC, and replaced him at GM with Howie Roseman, who had originally been demoted from the same position a year prior. The Flyers have hired a college hockey coach because that worked out so well for the football team here. And then there's the Sixers. Oh god, the Sixers. For the past three seasons, GM Sam Hinkie has been telling fans to "trust the process" while putting together a "team" of players that don't work well together while acquiring 8500 second-round draft picks and winning 12 games per season.
Philly's universities have produced some infamous people.
Uhh, moving on.
Let's talk about Rocky for a minute too. Look, the movie itself is awesome, Sly Stallone is great in it, and I'm not going to say anything bad about it. My problem with Rocky is its legacy among fans and sportswriters. Thanks in part to the movie, the ideal of the scrappy, undersized hard-working underdog still exists today to be idolized. Look at the fascination of guys like David Eckstein, Danny Woodhead, and Matthew Dellevadova, just to name a few. They're not glory boys! They don't care about your fancy stats! All they do is have grit, hustle, and determination! Unfortunately, we have Rocky and his runs up the art museum steps to thank for this.
And on TV right now, the most well-known show about Philly features four best friends and an angry dad who run a bar and all hate each other and make life miserable for themselves and everyone else they know. It's a perfect representation.
Philly is filled with miserable sports fans, schools with terrible alums, and cheesesteaks made with fake cheese.
I love this city.