On Thursday, the United States Olympic Committee announced that a delegation would tour the country over the next two weeks, trying to find the ideal American candidate to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. The USOC said it would tour several cities, including Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
Wait ... Philly? The City of Brotherly Love - so long as you're not a fan of any team that directly rivals the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers or Sixers?
This is a writer's dream: oh, the possibilities.
Philadelphia revels in its reputation as the country's most brutal sports city. Certainly, fans in Boston, New York and Washington can be rude and downright mean. But with Philly, it's not an issue of can - it's an issue of is. Anything less than giving one's all is simply not accepted, as evidenced by the Eagles' embarrassing 42-0 loss to Seattle at home on Monday Night Football. The franchise's theme song, "Fly Eagles Fly," served as the inspiration for the following day's back page of the Philadelphia Daily News. The headling read: "Try, Eagles, Try."
The fans can be worse, especially to fans of the opposing teams. When the Buccaneers headed to Philly in what would be the final football game at Veterans Stadium, one Tampa radio host advised Bucs fans that if they went to the game, they should wear neutral colors. It is a matter of safety, he warned.
One story in the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer-Press tried to explain why Minneapolis-area travel agencies were having such difficulty unloading trips to Philly for a Vikings playoff game.
"Don't look like a Vikings fan if you want to enjoy the game, and value your safety and possessions,'' the paper quoted Steve Erban, a local travel agency owner. "The stadium is beyond civilization. ... Any time they scored a touchdown, you got bathed. I witnessed a Packer plastic helmet, worn by a woman, taken off her head, and then they pounced on it and broke it into pieces. All of that is a staple.''
So, knowing what we know about Philly, what could we expect from a three-week party in which Philly fans have a rooting interest - the performance of American athletes?
My guess: It wouldn't be pretty.
Some of the potential highlights:
-- An Australian archer, competing in a newly-designed arena at Longwood Gardens, misses the target completely and takes out a row of rare, exotic plants. Though the wind gusted to 30 mph, fans have little regard for the archer's predicament. One yells, "You mean you came all this way to suck that bad?"
-- A Kenyan marathoner winds his way through Center City, coming up the home stretch on the Ben Franklin Parkway towards the Art Museum. Suddenly, a horde of Philadelphians start trailing the Kenyan for two blocks, keeping pace with him. Then, as if one, the fans realize he is a skinny African distance runner and not a sculpted, 20-something boxer. The fans run down the Kenyan and pummel him for making them think he was Rocky.
-- Philly fans are seemingly enthralled at watching two Chinese team members battle it out in a match of world-class table tennis at the Liacouras Center. But when one player doesn't hustle to a smash from his opponent, the fans become agitated and start booing. One fan is so incensed he rushes the floor - it just happens to be Joey Chestnut, winner of the 2006 Wing Bowl. He grabs both players and devours them, limb by limb. Philly fans cheer his new record: Two diminutive Chinese nationals in 1:36!
-- While kayaking down the Schuylkill River near Center City, one unfortunate Briton gets caught on an unseen dock near Boathouse Row. Stranded near the shoreline, he is surrounded by drunken Philly fans, who mock him and his Queen's English. He tries to fend them off using his paddle, but he is overwhelmed. The fans confiscate the paddle and beat him about the head with it.
-- A Spanish judge gets blinded by the west-setting sun and is nearly impaled by an incoming javelin at the track events at Franklin Field. The Swedish athlete looks on in confusion as he is booed for missing the judge.
-- During the men's equestrian final, America's best hope sees his chances ruined when his mount knocks over rails on three straight obstacles. The crowd begins to boo the horse, who looks on, unamused, and swats his tail to shoo a fly. Fans take offense at this, and one is bold enough to rush the horse. Security catches him before he reaches the animal, and the perpetrator is promptly rushed off to Philadelphia Park's convienent on-site court.
-- One unfortunate Greek weightlifter fails to realize that his slick-backed hair, round face and short stature are reminiscent of an old Eagles nemesis. When he fails to lift 350 kilos, Philly fans recognize the moment they have prepared for during the past eight months, and pelt him with snowballs.
Of course, I kid because I love. My favorite teams are all based in Philadelphia, and I'm a laid back person until the Eagles kick off, the Phillies' pen blows another lead or the Flyers fail on yet another power play.
Less than 10 years until 2015 winter - I can't wait. I've got some snowballs to get ready.
EDIT: At least we're not as bad as these folks: Soccer club director made to quit at gunpoint, court told