Earlier this summer my friend, Stephen Jordan, (who recently broke the 5:00 mile!) and I walked over to Starbucks to get something to drink and catch up on life. The moment we walked in the door I was greeted by a glorious aroma and John, my favorite Barista, who wasted no time reminding me that the my Philadelphia Flyers had lost in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You see, John is a die-hard Washington Capitals fan and I may have made a passing comment or two (or ten) when his beloved Caps (a heavy favorite) were eliminated in the first round of the NHL playoffs. So, I probably deserved his friendly jabs and jibes.
After a few minutes dissecting some of the highlights of the playoffs and talking about our hopes for next year John looked up from the drink he was preparing and said with conviction, “I am just glad Philly didn’t win it this year, your fans are @$$%*!!*$.”
It’s no secret, of course, that Philadelphia sports fans have a infamous reputation for being… Ummmm, how should I put this? Enthusiastic! Yeah, yeah… enthusiastic. In recent years, even I have been embarrassed to call myself a Philly sports fan in light of some of the true stories, making headlines, which usually feature an over zealous or just plain stupid Philadelphia sports fans. John wasted no time. He began building a case, story by story, to convince me that Philadelphia sports fans are… not the nicest (or smartest) people in the world. As John started making his opening arguments I began to feel like the defendant in a strange and overly caffeinated episode of Matlock. While continuing to make drinks from behind the bar he went through a heartfelt litany of examples to substantiate his claim.
Exhibit A: A Phillies fan/parent who apparently gave his 3 year old a son beer.
Exhibit B: Most of us have heard about the 17 year old Phillies fan that ran onto the Citizen Bank Field and was then tasered by a Philadelphia police officer.
Exhibit C: Flyers fans booed Vice Presidential candidate and “Hockey-Mom” Sarah Palin in 2008 at a Flyers/Rangers game.
Exhibit D: In 1999 Phillies fans booed the first U.S. hand transplant patient, who threw out the first pitch with his transplanted hand. When the ball dribbled across home plate he was then booed.
Exhibit E: At the beginning of the 2010 season, Matthew Clemmens,”Pukemon”, gained infamy for intentionally vomiting on an 11-year-old girl at a Phillies game because the girls father repeatedly asked Clemmens and his friends, who were totally drunk, to stop cursing and being obnoxious. **Although Clemmens is a Phillies fan, I would like the record to note that he is from New Jersey not Philadelphia.
Exhibit F: Susan Finkelstein allegedly offered sex in exchange for 2009 Phillies World Series tickets. She eventually got lucky, by not getting jail time in the case.
Exhibit G: Violence during Eagles’ games became such a problem that Philadelphia installed a court, judge and jail inside Veterans Stadium.
Exhibit H: Eagles fans boo newly drafted quarterback Donovan McNabb because they were disappointed that the franchise didn’t select RB Rickey Williams. McNabb and his family still are upset at the incident.
Exhibit I: In 1968, Eagles fans boo and then pelt a man dressed as Santa Claus who was part of a halftime ceremony. Stories vary on the legendary incident. In 2003, the same man was asked to appear in the same Santa suit at a Sixers game. He was booed again.
Exhibit J: Eagles fans, including soon to be governor Ed Rendell, pelt the Dallas Cowboys and head coach Jimmy Johnson with snowballs at the Vet. It was later discovered that may of the snowballs had batteries hidden inside.
Exhibit H: in 1999 Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending neck injury at Veterans Stadium. Philadelphia Fans cheered as Irvin lay injured on the field.
Exhibit I: The Phillie Phanatic’s (Mascot) head was stolen during a charity event at the Wachovia Center. After an investigation the head was finally returned and its abductor was charged.
John was finishing his closing arguments and a lull arose in drink orders. He peered up at me from behind the espresso machine and he said to me, “…And YOU are one of THEM! How does that make you feel?”
The prosecution rests your honor!
I thought to myself, “Guilty as Charged!”
I shared with Steven, on the walk back to church, that my conversation with John (about being associated with crazy Philadelphia sports fans) was a great lesson. As Jesus followers/”fan”atics we are representing way more than just a church or merely other Christians with our actions and behaviors (although this is still important). In my experience, each of us have a group of people that we encounter (regularly or maybe only once) who watch our lives and our actions (the good and the bad) and closely associate it with the message and ministry of Jesus. Some people who have questions about what it means to be a “Christian” are looking to see if our behavior is congruent with the transformational message of grace and love offered by the Savior. Scripture says we (our lives) are to be Salt, Light, to live as Ambassadors, smell like a a sweet fragrance, and to offer it (our lives) to God and others as a “living sacrifice.” With Gods’ help we are called to live with this intention, not because we are merely “supposed” to but in view of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
What do you think? If you call yourself a Jesus follower do you believe you have a responsibility to act differently from the world? Do you think that how we handle our failures can be just as much of an example as never failing? More so? I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “I love Jesus, it’s Christians I can’t stand.” Do you feel like this is a sentiment shared by most people?
If you are a fan of The Ordained Barista would you do me a favor and get TOB delivered right to your online reader? all you need to do is click on the coffee mug at the top of the page and pick a reader! I recommend Google reader but they all work mostly the same. As I try to get my work in front of publishers my “platform” (including blog subscribers) becomes an indication of sustainability.
Thanks for your support and “Stay classy Philadelphia!”