I am not a Philadelphia Phillies fan.
I do not have kids.
I was happy when they won the World Series.
I am not an uptight, crotchety extremist.
I enjoy sprinkling my vocabulary with well placed curse words for emphasis and comedy.
But according to public sentiment, I am in the minority of people who were offended when All-Star fan favorite Chase Utley shouted “World f***ing champions!” during the Phillies parade in front of thousands and thousands of fans over the loud speakers. He was drunk and in the moment. But that doesn’t pardon his reckless, barbaric now-popular catchphrase in my eyes. Childrens were there–lots of them. And Utley has never apologized for being a foulmouthed drunkard who should have know better. None of the other Phillies cursed when they were at the podium.
He is a HIGHLY paid role model in a town that adores every gritty at-bat he battles through. He was over the line, but Philadelphians, hungry to celebrate anything, for the most part thought it was humorous, or worse, acceptable given the circumstance.
But here’s the ripple effect: because Utley refused to apologize, and because Philadelphians are excited about rooting for a World Champion team going into the 2009 season, I’ve seen more and more people wearing shirts with the graphic shown above. The message is that it’s okay to use profane language in public…because the Phillies won! Because Chase Utley, our hero, said it outloud! Because there was no fallout, it gives us permission to do the same!
Coming back from lunch, I saw a 13 year old kid walking in broad daylight with a sweatshirt bearing Utley’s infamous credo. He was not tailgating nor wearing a baseball glove heading to practice. In other words, he was not in a sports setting of any kind–just walking along the warm streets of Roxborough on a sunny, breezy day. He wasn’t being crass or rude to people on the street. But his sweatshirt is/was still HIGHLY offensive to regular people. Not everyone in Philadelphia is a Phillies fan. But everyone should be able to agree that there is a time and a place for cursing up a storm (poker night, Chris Rock stand-up specials, anytime Kurupt raps).
Disgustingly raunchy homemade shirts are a part of sports. But it’s usually contained to maybe 20 folks who press up a controversial image or saying that is relevant to a particular player, event, or rivalry. You can buy them from guys selling these bootlegged tees outside the stadium on game night for $10. My (least) favorite was seen in abundance whenever the Eagles played the Cowboys the past three years: “Cowboys Suck, T.O. Swallows.”
This isn’t a Philadelphia issue: I’ve seen other cities with fans wearing flippant homemade shirts with the F word sprinkled all over it, waving signs with disparaging remarks to opponents, etc. But I don’t live in those cities, so my question to you Philadelphians and sports fans who live out of the 215 is:
Does being a hardcore sports fan make it okay to promote profanity to the rest of the public?
Are you okay with people using foul language around you or your family as long as it’s in a sports-related setting (watching the game at home, tailgating, hanging at a sports bar)?
Are you comfortable bypassing your morals and ethics, offending large groups of people in the process, months after yout team has won a title ?
You let me know, folks. I appreciate any feedback on this issue.