All I ever wanted was to go to Penn State. This was the plan, and it was the only plan. I took the SATs five times, filled out the application, and hoped. It was Penn State University Park or bust. I got in.
I loved Penn State (and still do) and it was the only place I could see myself going to college. After I graduated, a job opportunity came to me in the only other place I could see myself living: Philadelphia. I was told I had two weeks to relocate and start, and so it came to pass that in the fall of 2004, I moved here.
I grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, an equal distance from New York City and Philly. Some people there liked New York teams; I loved my Flyers and Phillies. And although being far away didn’t dim my affection for them, it only seemed right that I’d finally be close to the teams I loved. The longer I lived here in Philly, the more that love grew into the desire to see the city as a whole do well, to be happy. Happiness due to sports has been in rare supply for us. When someone has a chance to give it to us, we as a city support them, no matter who it is; it’s why we cheered on Smarty Jones, it’s why we supported the Taney Dragons, and it’s why we got on the Villanova bandwagon for a couple weeks and now we’re celebrating with them.
The truest Philadelphian is a fan of the city of Philadelphia. I have no claim to Villanova save that I love this city and they’re from this city. I’m not alumni and I’m not a Nova fan who cheers for them year in and year out (like so many people do with programs like Duke and North Carolina). I’m a fan of the city of Philadelphia, however, and I want the city to be happy. If that means backing a city team in the NCAA tournament who gives us the chance to celebrate an athletic victory but to whom I have no other claim, so be it. It’s okay to be happy for a team in your city you don’t normally cheer for because it’s good for your city. It’s okay to find joy in the joy of others. It’s okay to find happiness in the fact your city is happy. It’s okay to be happy.
Enjoy this one. We never know when the next one is coming. That’s part of the wonder of sports: you never know what will happen next. Sometimes it’s a bunch of French-Canadians no one wanted winning back-to-back Cups. Sometimes it’s the worst franchise in baseball history winning the World Series. And sometimes it’s a local college basketball team exorcising the demons of first-weekends-past, blowing out a team by record margins in the Final Four, and winning the whole gosh darn thing.