Open Letter to Karen Heller: Philadelphia is NOT a LOSER TOWN!

Date: 01/14/2004

To Karen Heller:

In response to your (1/14/2003) column entitled "Eagles fans shouldn't fly too high; this is Loser Land", I take umbrage with nearly every slanted biased fact you present as proof that this is the Land of the Losers. I love Philadelphia and I can be sure that she loves me back. In my short life on this earth, most of my 29 years spent in Philly, I have lived long enough to see (if not remember) 2 Stanley Cups, 1 NBA championship and 1 exhilarating World Series victory. In that time, what you consider losing, the Flyers have been to the Stanley Cup finals an additional 5 times, the 76ers have been to the NBA Finals an additional 4, even the Phillies have been to the World Series twice since their victory in 1980.

1980, how can we forget. That year, all 4 sports teams in this town went to the finals in their respective sports (only the Phillies were victorious). No other town in America can boast that fact. In fact since 1980, the most any one city could muster is 2 teams (Philadelphia enjoyed this feat in '83), except for New York in 2000 which featured a Mets v. Yankees World Series. Certainly, New York, with 7 professional sports franchises in the 4 major sports, could get to the finals in the same year in more than 2 sports? ( I didn't include the Nets or Devils as New York teams despite sharing a complex with both the Giants and Jets).

While we have waited, impatiently I must add, for a championship in any sport for 19 years, Philadelphia Sports fans do not act like losers. Sure there were 11 arrests this past weekend, not a bad number out of the 65000 fans who urged their team to victory. During that great Sixers run, the night of their 10th straight win, I was in Old City, greeted by complete strangers who asked me if I knew the score of the Sixers game (one a visitor from Canada). That night for sure was a night Philadelphia Loved you back!

In October, I and 10 other friends, and what seemed like 10000 acquaintances arrived in Jacksonville, with Eagles green "boasting" of our great team. And though that game was a loss, you can be sure that those Jacksonville fans, while skeptical at first, were jealous of our passion. (Especially after they invited us to drink some Jacksonville Punch to drown our sorrows).

I could go on and on about the merits of our fans. And I won't even embarrass you further by mentioning the many winners that our Colleges and High Schools produce in athletics and otherwise. Sure our city has had our black eyes from Santa Claus to the MOVE tragedy. But we also just put the most prominent Eagles fan in the top spot in Harrisburg. Not too shabby!

Your words revealed much about yourself and your obvious unhappiness with your own station in life; I'll be happy when the Sunday New York Times Magazine finally answers your incessant calls for a job.

Your words discredited everyone in this town, from the 5 year old girl learning to throw a baseball for the first time to the 75 year old man trying to Birdie the #1 hole at Juniata Golf Course. You discredited every hero from Chuck Bednarik to Reggie White, from Bobby Clarke to John LeClair, from Richie Ashburn to Mike Schmidt, from Wilt Chamberlain to Julius Erving. And you discredited me, and for all of us, I demand an apology!


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