The Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII (that's 52, for those of us who stopped using Roman numerals long ago). For a city that sports some of the most diehard fans (and we really do our best to diehard, for our teams), it's a dream almost six decades in the making. The Philadelphia football team hasn't won a championship since before the Super Bowl was a thing and, believe me, fans in this town know how to suffer, though we never do it in silence.
All of this celebration, being surrounded by people whose unabashed joy echoed through my office building for a week, has only made me feel...conflicted. After all, I was born and raised in the city, and always rooted for the Eagles when Sunday rolled around.
However, in my attempts to try to grasp the world outside of my white-cis-middle class-suburban bubble after the 2016 election, I've taken a few steps to devote my time, efforts, and energy to causes and groups that support the things I really care about. I stopped buying Dove soap products. I started signing petitions and calling my congressmen about issues that really matter to me. I subscribed to, and began to religiously read, newsletters and articles written by people from other races, genders, and backgrounds.
And I decided, for the 2017-2018 season, that I was completely done with the NFL.
There's a lot to unpack here. First, I will absolutely admit that I was weaning myself off of football before 2017. I only get two days a week of leisure, and spending more than half of one of them yelling at a television screen while my cat cowered in the corner was starting to feel like an awfully big drain on limited resources.
The real decision to consciously step away, and stop following highlights or liking stories or doing anything that continues to drive money or positive attention to the NFL, came as I started to educate myself. It's the horrific treatment of Colin Kaepernick and other players kneeling to peacefully protest police violence (if you don't know what this is, please do some more research. One link doesn't even come close to doing this topic justice). It's the continued cover-ups and denials about traumatic injuries that are ruining players' lives long after they've retired (again, broad topic, please read up if you're interested).
So now, while part of me is SO excited for my city, for my friends and family who have been lifelong fans and deserve this kind of happiness, part of me also struggles. Is it worth it, or is it right, to rain on parades of joy with my own political ideals? And how do I not feel like a hypocrite if I want to join the chant, if I want to celebrate this once-in-a-few-lifetimes victory for my hometown?
Here are a few things I've been doing for myself to help me better understand my feelings and deal with them, and also to celebrate an Eagles team that really, really deserved this win.
Look at the team itself. The players on this team really walk the walk. Even the owner got involved in the "anthem protests"—and in a positive way, unlike some other NFL honchos. The team attends local government meetings to talk about issues they care about. They donate to and work with local programs to help support their cities. And in the wake of their victory, they continue to take peaceful but firm stances on the subjects that matter most to them.
And the quarterback. Nick Foles is about as down-home and humble as you can get. He isn't pulling down tens of millions of dollars each year like some of these other big names. He doesn't have dozens of sponsorships and endorsement deals (though he probably will now). He loves the game. He loves his family. He doesn't give up. And for that, he's been rewarded. And that's just beautiful.
And then there's the team they beat. Tom Brady has repeatedly touted his friendship and support for the sitting president, despite racist, misogynistic, and homophobic policies coming out of the White House for more than a year now. Even if he says that he doesn't want to get into politics, we live in a time where it must be pretty nice to be able to ignore the fact that your "friend" is ruining lives. Then again, I'm sure that's easy to do when you're white, straight, cis and rich as all hell.
There are members of the Patriots that protested along with the rest of the league, and for others on that team, I am sad for their loss. From a personal note, though, it's really nice to see an underdog team from a city with no championships topple a dynasty with five big game wins already under their belt.
Ultimately, the fans deserve this win. Being a fan of Philadelphia sports—and the Eagles in general—is no easy task. We tend to lose big. We tend to choke when it matters. We tend to have refs turn against us (though I'm sure every team thinks that). So while I'm proud of myself for all I've learned and grown, and for making the personal decision for myself to step away from the NFL, I won't begrudge anyone else this victory.
Fly, Eagles, Fly. And celebrate, fans, celebrate (but please try to stop destroying things while you're doing it).