May 05, 2021
Presidents historically have had a symbolic connection to the sports landscape in the United States. It's a stage that gives the commander-in-chief a way to relate to Americans in a more casual way, outside worries about the economy and North Korean missiles.
Many presidents see sports as a way to escape the confines of partisanship. George W. Bush's first pitch after the 9/11 attacks was a show of perseverance. Barack Obama's riffing with the Chicago Cubs after their World Series victory in 2016 — despite being a diehard White Sox fan — was a powerful moment as the team broke its century-old curse.
And under President Trump? Well, things went awry. Teams like the Golden State Warriors and Eagles declined to visit the White House in protest of the president's divisive politics, which often leveraged cultural moments to activate his base. Trump even opted to formally disinvite the Eagles after only a small delegation of coaches and players were willing to show up.
President Joe Biden has had a busy first four months in office, to say the least. Opportunities to discuss sports haven't been plentiful or even appropriate given the state of the nation.
But while out for a lunch Wednesday at Las Gemelas at Union Market in Washington, Biden took a moment to chat about Philadelphia with a member of the restaurant's staff. The young woman told the president she is from Fishtown, prompting Biden to talk about the city. Biden is a Scranton native and his wife, Jill, grew up in Willow Grove, Montgomery County.
"Get out! Fishtown!" Biden said. "Tell you what, I've spent a lot of time in Fishtown. You know, Fishtown is overwhelming — I don't want to insult anybody — it's overwhelmingly Irish. In Philadelphia, you can identify the neighborhood based on who lives in the neighborhood. Fishtown is a neat place."
The president then repeated that he "married a Philly girl," and opined that Philly sports fans are the "most informed, most obnoxious" in the world.
"They know everything, you know what I mean?" Biden said. "I never disagree with my wife. She's always right. That's smart, right? It's kind of a Philly thing."
Are Philly fans the most informed and obnoxious in the world? If the question is about satisfying both conditions — informed and obnoxious — it's hard to come up with another fan base that better meets the criteria.
The city's sports culture often gets boiled down to Santa Claus and snowballs, or throwing batteries, but that's always been a thinly veiled straw man argument about Philadelphia fans.
In reality, people in the Philadelphia region care deeply about their teams and the traditions that surround them. They lionize coaches like the late John Chaney and praise media mainstays like Eagles analyst Ray Didinger precisely because their intelligence counteracts a highlight reel of drunk displays over the years. If this is not the definition of "most obnoxious," then what is?
Sixers fan gives Russell Westbrook the double bird pic.twitter.com/iRZH9xVZlS— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) October 27, 2016
But for every instance of a Philly sports fan acting out of line, you've got dozens of others out there canonizing The Process, debating who should make the Eagles practice squad and remembering the details of regular season games that were played years ago.
In that spirit, enjoy these highlights from an otherwise unremarkable 31-23 loss the Eagles suffered in 2009 against the San Diego Chargers, notable because of the impressive comeback attempt and a career day for wide receiver Jason Avant, who had an amazing circus catch and a career-best eight receptions for 156 yards.