Remember what it felt like the first time? It was magical, wasn’t it?
I promise there’s nothing risque behind that question. I’m simply talking sports. All you sports fans who have been fortunate enough to witness one of your hometown teams win a championship, do you remember the emotions you felt when it happened?
Last week, when the Philadelphia Phillies prevailed over the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, all Philadelphia fans were treated to that feeling. More than most, however, fans from the City of (not always) Brotherly Love had waited and waited and waited for this day to come. No major sports team from the city has won a title in 25 years, not since the 76ers’ NBA championship in 1983.
This means that for GW students and college students all over the country who are fans of these great teams, it was our first chance to experience a world title. And for those of you who watch NFL games at WOW Wingery on Sundays, you know just how many annoying Eagles fans there are.
Sadly, this sports-crazed city, known for its incredibly passionate fans, had become synonymous with losing. That happens when your baseball team has lost over 10,000 games, more than any franchise in professional sports history, and your football team hasn’t won a title in the Super Bowl era.
Last week, though, the city became winners. This city bleeds the colors of its sports teams. On Wednesday, when the Phillies won the longest World Series game in history (thanks to a fluky rain delay situation, the game spanned 48 hours from start to finish), the city’s population rejoiced, knowing that they had all won that night.
The thoughts and emotions flooding the minds of fans were paradoxical. The feelings of relief, euphoria and exultation were countered by thoughts of disbelief, skepticism and puzzlement. Did we really just win a championship? That couldn’t have just happened.
But it really did. It takes time for the reality of it to sink in, but that’s the wonder of winning a championship, especially for such a title-starved city. My friend Adam and I, upon witnessing the final out, yelled out at the top of our lungs, as expected.
But then something strange happened: We fell silent.
Staring at the TV, without speaking, we looked at each other and just thought, “Wow, we really won.” Finally, we no longer have to say we’ve never seen our Philly teams bring home a trophy.
We’ve had our share of stars who ripped the city’s collective heart out of its chest, but also been treated to MVPs like Allen Iverson, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. But no matter how many top draft picks, MVP players, record-breaking performances or ESPN mentions a team receives, nothing can compare to a championship. Just as individual honors don’t affect the whole team, they don’t affect the whole city. We’re proud of our guys for doing well, but in those situations we’re not really a part of it.
With a championship, it’s different. For every one of us college students, and basically every Philadelphia sports fan up to the age of 30, this will always be our first and best memory of the unadulterated joy associated with winning a championship. This will be the one we will tell our kids about, always remembering exactly where we were when the game was over. The burden has been lifted: We are champions again.