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September 13, 2019

Natalie Egenolf: It shouldn't take a Mike Scott altercation with tailgaters to create change


“Eagles fans fight Mike Scott at Tailgate.” 

The news spread like wildfire at the Linc and the surrounding parking lots. What could have happened that would cause an athlete who has embraced every possible aspect of this city to get into an altercation with the fanbase who has welcomed him with open arms? 

He wore a Washington jersey to the tailgate? Okay, right for some playful ribbing. They were drunk? Okay, drunk people do stupid things. Someone called him the 'N' word? Oh welp, there you have it. 

As the city reacted to the tailgate scuffle all week long the game seemed like second-hand news. A bad start in the first half by the Eagles was buried by the fans going back and forth about what’s right and what’s wrong and appropriate tailgate etiquette — as if there’s such a thing.

Social media swelled with tweets on what needs to change. The popular opinion was that the fan base does not deserve to be labeled with the old nasty stigma we’ve carried around for years due to the “old mentality” our elders may have had. 

We are not who they were. What’s remarkable about what transpired from this was that the vocal majority was saying this generation of Eagles' fans take pride in treating people with respect. This generation of Eagles' fans is aware of the ramifications of racism. This generation of Eagles fans knows that there’s nothing glorious about disparaging someone for the color of their skin because they’re wearing an opposing teams jersey. 

It’s embarrassing, it’s shameful and this generation of Eagles fans will not tolerate it. There have been videos of public pleas for a culture change at the Linc.

It’s unfortunate that this is what it took to shed light on something so horrific, however, if it wasn’t Mike Scott, another African American male would have been on the receiving end of blatant racism for being a fan of another team. He would have left Philadelphia with this opinion that the City of Brotherly Love is actually a city that is filled with hatred, and the stigma that Philadelphia is as nasty as the national media has portrayed it to be. 

Unfortunately, something of this magnitude this is how we make progress.

This week marked the 18th anniversary of 9/11. The more I thought about the Mike Scott incident the more I reflected on the days that followed the day that hatred tried to take down the United States of America. On September 11, 2001, we banded together regardless of race or religion and stood together as Americans to grieve the loss of 3,000 innocent people. They were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles. They were of all races and religion and had different beliefs. On that day, no one thought about the color of the skin of the people who died, we thought about just the people. 

Why does a tragedy have to happen to remember that people are people? Why does tragedy have to bring people together? This country has gone through immense change since 9/11 but if we’re still yelling racial slurs at a football tailgate for something as simple as fandom we need to remember 9/11 and the days that followed to should tell us what this country and city is really about. 

As Harry Kalas said in the first Phillies game after the event: “we must never resort to the thinking that created Tuesday’s acts of terrorism, they were born of hatred”.

Philadelphia was founded on the idea of freedom. We were the place the Underground Railroad ended. From the very beginning of THIS city we wanted people to feel welcome and safe. 

As we continue football season keep in mind what this city, and our football team, means to us and what it’s really about. 

Sunday is our day of refuge; it’s a day of celebration. We get together to celebrate the team that represents the City of Brotherly love and we need to represent that too.

Follow Natalie on Twitter: @NatalieEgenolf

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