In defense of (the sports fans of) my adopted City of Brotherly Love

January 22, 2018

So the Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC championship game last night over the Minnesota Vikings in an unexpected outcome, or at least in unexpected fashion, rolling off 38 unanswered points after spotting Minnesota an opening touchdown.

But this isn’t about that.

What I do want to talk about is the slant the media coverage is putting on the Philadelphia fans, and what I think is a fundamental flaw of our media today.

First of all, let’s set the scene.  If you were to believe some coverage, you could be forgiven if you thought that sporting events in Philadelphia were nothing but tune-ups for mass civic chaos. People attend sporting events, but the *real* show is the idiocy that takes place in the streets of Philadelphia after the game, win or lose. Hide the women and children, lock your doors, those Philly fans are at it again.

Now, I am not for a second denying that there are knuckleheads in Philadelphia, and sure, maybe we have more than our share. But the VAST MAJORITY of fans in this town are passionate, law-abiding fans who get excited about their teams, especially when they do REALLY well, as the Iggles did last night. But that doesn’t make as good a story as “there they go again, those boorish Philly fans.”

And just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m not even a native Philadelphian, like my wife. We moved here in 1991, moved away for 3 years, and have been back since the late 90’s, so I think I feel safe calling it my “adopted” hometown. And while I might not have the history, I have roughly two decades of experience in the Philly sports scene, and I feel like I know it pretty well. Trust me, they’re not that bad.

While we lived away from Philly in the 90’s, there was an incident at the Army-Navy game at Veterans Stadium involving a collapsed railing. Unfortunately some army cadets were hurt. But the coverage in our local paper (again, not in Philly) took the tone of “another incident with Philadelphia sports fans…”  Really?  Last time I checked, neither service academy was anywhere near Philly, but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story!

But that was just one incident.

Probably the most famous incident is that Philly fans booed and threw snowballs at Santa Claus. OK, fair point. But that was in 1968.  Trust me, we did a lot of things in this country in 1968 that we weren’t too proud of, I’m not sure the Santa thing makes the Top 10. It might be time to let this one go, considering it took place 50 (50!!!) years ago. While we’re at it, I’d like to apologize to the Hessians for that whole thing with Washington crossing the Delaware.  No hard feelings, right fellas?

And that incident and others leads to that sort of behavior now being expected out of Philly fans, and includes things like the Philadelphia police applying Crisco to the light poles on Broad Street. Again, they did this for a reason, because some idiots climbed the light poles when the Phillies won the whole enchilada in 2008. But again, a small minority in a population of 1.5 million, and 6 million if you count the surrounding metro area.

So why does this idea persist?

Good question, me.  Well, I think the answer is simple, and also depressing. It is now an “accepted narrative,” and I don’t think it gets more complex than that. Most media today (and as a former member of the Fourth Estate I feel I have some standing) is accused of bias, having an agenda, or some other form of “fake news.” What a bunch of crap.  Media (and it is really hard to generalize) is made of human beings, with human motivations.  They are also squeezed for time/budgets/eyeballs/clicks, and are slowly being marginalized and “disrupted” (God I hate that word) out of their business. They also know that people generally like reading stories that affirm their pre-conceived notions.  Hmm, you see where I’m going with this?

Stories about obnoxious Philadelphia sports fans are popular because everyone thinks Philadelphia sports fans are obnoxious (the snake eating its own head). It’s just easier, and a helluva lot more expedient, to give the people what they want, rather than challenging the status quo or, heaven forbid, providing nuance.

Finally, let’s say there are jerks in Philly who are sports fans. Do you think we have the market cornered?  There are boorish fans everywhere, because (and you might want to sit down for this) there are boorish people everywhere. For God’s sake, our friends from Canada have a reputation for bending over backwards and being polite (sorry, oh sorry), so when they rioted and burned cars after the Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup finals, it made news, but it didn’t really affect their reputation.

And this is not to blame other cities.  They are cities, so by definition today they have a concentration of people, and sports teams. People go to sporting events, they are passionate, they have a few pops, and it’s a pretty wicked combo. Rioting after championship games (or series) is actually fairly common. San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, etc. And those nice guys and gals from Minnesota sure didn’t have a problem defacing a local landmark with their purple and gold.  All in good fun though, right?

But for some reason, Philly seems to get singled out.

The result is stories that say “Eagles Fans Riot in the Streets” above a series of videos of people high-fiving, hugging, and singing “Fly Eagles, Fly” to each other in the streets. If there was a riot, I sure as heck missed it.

Am I biased? Sure I am. But so are you. And so is everyone.

I love my adopted hometown, and I feel like I understand the passionate fans who have ached for this kind of success for the Eagles, who hold a special place in this town’s heart. I’m not saying we’re all perfect, and I’m sure as heck not saying that 100% of Philly sports fans are well-behaved. But from a numbers perspective, it’s not even close.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Molotov cocktails to prepare.  That Super Bowl is just around the corner.  — Jabin



I’m back, baby!

January 10, 2018

After taking a many years sabbatical (really?) from posting to this blog, I’m starting up again.  That’s right, an 8-year gap.  But that time I spent finding myself in Tibet was really worth it.

A proud moment

March 3, 2010

I have modest goals in life.  At least I thought I did.  And then this thing happened at the office that kind of surprised me, in the sense that I was very proud of it.  Someone (Massachusetts General Hospital) sent my company a direct mail piece, pictured here. You will notice that it makes reference to an event sponsored by the “Red Sox foundation.”  You will also note that some kind soul — I can only assume someone in our mailroom — has circled those words, written my name next to it, and delivered this piece of mail to me.

Now, keeping in mind for a second that the actual content of this mailer has nothing to do with me, someone has identified my name enough with the Red Sox to think to deliver this piece of mail to me.   I think I can say, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, that this is one of the proudest moments of my life.  To have someone think, “Red Sox … hmm .. Jabin.”  That’s just about the coolest thing I can think of, so I felt the urge to share it.  I, of course, will take down this post if tomorrow I get any mail from the New York Yankees.

Amazon Kindle a fraud? Ouch.

January 6, 2010

I found this fascinating quote today:

He said that Apple doesn’t see e-books as a big market at this point, and pointed out that, for example, doesn’t ever say how many Kindles it sells. “Usually, if they sell a lot of something, you want to tell everybody.”–Steve Jobs on the Kindle

David Crotty under, The Scholarly Kitchen, Jan 2010

You should read the whole article.

In Defense of America

December 22, 2009

Great OpEd in the NY Times today by Roger Cohen. He put into words what a lot of people, myself included, love about America. Sure, we’re not perfect (and what country is?), but I sure as heck am proud of the ideals and the idea of America.

Happy Holidays.

What’s in a (unique) name…

December 15, 2009

u⋅nique  /yuˈnik/
–adjective 1. existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics: a unique copy of an ancient manuscript.


For my whole life I’ve been told that I have a “unique” name.  Only lately have I come to realize that that is the wrong word, as unique implies (heck, it does more than imply) that I am the *only* person with that name. More and more, I am finding out that is just not the case.

Jabin, pronounced JAY-bin (and butchered by many people, including buddies in jest), is definitely an unusual name, and for the longest time I thought I was the only one. For anyone who cares, it is a family name, and it is taken from my great, great, great Grandfather Jabin (he wasn’t using it anymore), but it has its roots in the Bible. I’m no theologian, don’t even play one on TV, but it is in the Book of Judges, (Chapter 4 if you are into that sort of thing). He was a King of Hazor, and his name translates as “discerner,” or “the wise.”  Let’s just say that I know several people who would disagree with that translation.

So anyway, ever since Al Gore invented the Internets, and more importantly ever since I’ve had the domain name (shameless plug), I get Emails every once in a while from other “Jabin’s,” and it is a lot of fun. I’ve seen it as a first name, a middle name, and a last name.  And they come in all shapes and sizes, from a whole bunch of different countries.

But I was pleased to get this story via Google Alert after this weekend’s FCS college football semifinal games. Turns out a receiver for the University of Montana, Jabin Sambrano, caught the winning pass to put the Grizzlies into the National Championship game. Ironically, in said game they will face Villanova, whose campus I can see from the window of my house.  Weird, huh?

Anyhoo, it’s a great name, and I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sure, I admire guys with names that are easier to pronounce — especially at loud parties — but I also like the “off the beaten path” quality of my name.  Different, but not unique.

I’ve been Facejacked!!!

November 24, 2009

It started innocently enough last Saturday.  I’m running out the door to my son’s soccer game, and I notice that there is a message on my home phone.  It’s from my buddy Evan S., who leaves a message to the effect that, “Hey Jabin, this is going to sound weird, but I just chatted on Facebook with someone who claimed to be you and said they were held up at gunpoint in London and needed me to wire money.”  I immediately called him back and got details, although they were sketchy since he, too, was on his way to his son’s soccer game (there is something funny and sad about that, but not the point right now), and he was driving while talking on a cell phone in New Jersey, which is a legal no-no.  Suffice it to say that he tricked the person pretending to be me by asking if my kids were involved, and then he said “Josephine and Stevie must have been freaked out.” When the other person bit (those are most certainly NOT my kids’ names), he knew it wasn’t me.  Pretty quick thinking on Evan’s part.  He also said the language didn’t sound like me.

I went to my computer and tried to log into my Facebook account to see what was up, and lo and behold, it wouldn’t take my password. I had indeed been the victim of a Facebook hijacking, or Facejacking (I have no idea if that’s a real term or not, but it sounded good). The person had changed my password and Email address associated with the account, so not only was he/she claiming to be me, he/she had locked me out of the account to prevent me from stopping this.

Pretty easily I found a listing on the Facebook help page for an FAQ about this happening, and I filled out a form telling them what happened.  But time being what it was, I had to go to my son’s soccer game.

I had my cell phone with me, but was involved during the game coaching and couldn’t answer any calls.  When the game was over, I had 6-7 messages from people who had a similar experience to Evan’s.  This scumbag was basically chatting with any of my friends who were online and giving the same story, that I had been robbed at gunpoint in London, and could they please wire me money (seems like he varied between $600 and $900), and most people were just calling to see if I was ok/let me know what was going on.  I don’t know anyone who was actually taken in by this ruse, hopefully because the language the guy (or gal?) used was, at best, broken English.  He claimed my wife was “hurt on the head pretty good” and that he would “definitely ref the money most quickly.”  That seemed to be enough of a red flag for most people.  One quick-thinking friend, like Evan, asked the fake “me” to provide my home phone number.  When they couldn’t, he immediately ended the chat.

The good news — by the time I got back from the soccer game, Facebook had suspended my account, so no more “chat” damage could be done and my Facebook friends would be spared this annoyance or worse. But for roughly 5-6 hours (that’s a guess, as I’m not sure when this started Saturday morning) there was someone claiming to be me hitting up my Facebook friends for money. Not the best feeling in the world — I feel like I owe all my Facebook friends a HUGE apology.

The bad news — this whole situation has left me feeling pretty violated, and in need of a shower. The feelings are a mixture of guilt, insecurity, embarrassment, and rage that some scumbag out there could do this. Now I’m not naive, I know computer hacking is about as rare as the common cold, but to see it so up close and personal like this is a bit unsettling.  I’m no luddite — my Facebook password was alpha-numeric, and different from any other password that I use, and they still got me.  But as I write this on Tuesday, I still can’t log into my Facebook page (this is probably a good thing, as Facebook is taking all the necessary steps to ensure that it is me).

But I am thinking when I do have access again, I’m going to post a message saying that I’m back, I’m fine, I was not robbed at gunpoint, and thanks for all the concern. Then I’m going to cancel my Facebook account.  It’s just not worth it.  I know this might seem extreme, but balancing the advantages of having an online profile vs. the exposure to something like this is pretty easy math.  I’ve got my own home page (shameless plug –, so the necessity of a Facebook page for an online identity is lessened.

Could I have taken any steps to prevent this? Sure. I could have had a more secure password — you are supposed to use special characters in your passwords, and I didn’t do that, so I deserve a share of the blame. But I am putting some of this on Facebook as well (clearly most of it goes to the scumbag perpetrator), because this just seemed too easy to me. I know it’s difficult to fend off all attacks like this, and expecting Facebook to be 100% secure is ridiculous. So absent that expectation, I think the best course of action is to close the account.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be curled up in the fetal position in my basement bunker.  Send food and water.

Top 100 YouTube moments

October 8, 2009

Someone had to do it.

Michael Vick

August 19, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles signed Michael Vick last week, and the city of Philadelphia is abuzz with talk about whether it was the *right* move or not. Comments range from “How could they?” to “I’m boycotting the Eagles!” to “Where can I pick up a No. 7 jersey?”

Me. I’m friggin’ Switzerland.

It would be hypocritical of me to say that I am disappointed in the Eagles, because I at least know myself well enough to admit that I will be cheering the second Vick steps into the end zone this fall. Sports is a business — albeit a special one — and the Eagles can tallk all they want about “second chances” and rehabilitation. It’s all a bunch of BS.

This was a business decision, pure and simple. The Eagles calculated that this player could help their team win, and that meant more to them that the publicity nightmare they would face by signing him.

And lest you think I am overly-rational, let me just say that if he had signed with the Giants, Redskins, or — God forbid — the Cowboys, I would have been bashing the decision as one of the worst in sports history. You can’t spell FAN-atic without Fan.

Bridging Adulthood and Youth

July 1, 2009

Is it me or are kids more savvy today than they used to be?  Or maybe I was just a little slow on the uptake as a kid?

Case in point.  I grew up along the Gulf of Mexico (St. Petersburg, FL, to be exact), and we made frequent trips over the inter-coastal waterway and its subsequent toll bridges  to the beach. My mother – with her wonderful sense of humor – used to yell out my name “Jabin White!” as we slowed down at the toll booth. The worker would invariably wave her right on through.  It took a few years – probably a few years more than I would be willing to admit – until I realized that my mom had purchased an annual sticker which, when placed in the window, got the holder of said pass a wave from the toll booth attendant. It never occurred to me that there was some other way that this transaction was taking place.  What can I say? – we just didn’t think that way back then.

I’m grown now with two kids of my own, and remember fondly the joke my mom played on me back in the day. I figured it was time to revive the old standard, and the perfect opportunity presented itself just last weekend.  My kids (11 and 7) were in the car with me as we returned from the Jersey Shore into Philadelphia (my wife was in another car, as we needed two vehicles to transport all our “stuff” for the two-week vacation). As we approached the span of the Walt Whitman Bridge (not my favorite poet, but it’s a great bridge), I began to lay the foundation of the gag.  “Did Daddy ever tell you guys he has magic powers over bridges?” I began.  Skepticism ruled in the car.  “Sure, Dad…” was the reply from both kids.  But I was undeterred.

We crossed over the bridge and approached the toll booth on the Pennsylvania side (every time I do that, I think of the joke about it being free to get into New Jersey but costs $4 to get out).  I got into the left lane, and as we cruised through the toll booth, I yelled out “Kate White!” at the top of my lungs. As if on cue, the light turned green, the arm went up, and off we went.  Really trying to sell the joke now, I said “What did you guys think of that?”

“It’s E-Z Pass, Dad,” my daughter said. “A duh!” (Editors note: “A duh” is actually about 6 syllables, but I don’t know how to spell it.  Think Tina Fey on 30 Rock.)

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m all about technology, and the advantages it gives society. I’m also all about kids being proficient at technology. But when it cuts into my humor with my kids, I have to draw the line. JOK, perhaps I’m overstating it a bit, but is it wrong to long for yesteryear, when a parent could pull an innocent prank on a child without getting served?  Back in my day we had stickers on windows, and we liked it!