For the Love of God: Stop. Talking. About. Cheesesteaks.
Watching national coverage of sporting events involving Philadelphia teams the past several days has revealed a disturbing pattern: An upsetting amount of inexplicable cheesesteak references. Sports broadcasters, the fans of Philadelphia sports teams implore you: Learn something more about Philadelphia other than the fact that cheesesteaks are eaten in this city.
I have been a Phillies fan all my life. And it hasn’t been easy. I was born in Philadelphia, raised in Minnesota, attended college in Cincinnati and now reside in New York, 3 miles away from Citi Field. While my parents now live in Philadelphia, and it is my “second home”, my opportunities to watch a Phillies game live are few and far between. Last night I finally had the chance to finally watch Cliff Lee start for my favorite baseball team on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and yet, I was mad.
Let me first say that I understand how difficult it is to be a sports analyst, especially for a sport as complex and stat oriented as baseball. But ESPN, I have a major bone to pick with you.
Stop. Talking. About. Cheesesteaks.
9 times in last night’s telecast the word cheesesteak was mentioned by one of the 3 broadcasters. 9 times. Add that to the half dozen or so mentions from Thursday night’s draft coverage (not to mention the MILLIONS of other times it has been referenced while discussing Philly sports) and you have convinced the entire country that all the people of Philadelphia do is sit around, yell at people at sports events (after all, don’t we have the “worst” sports fans?) and eat cheesesteaks? Come on, man! (to quote the man who likes to talk about Cheesesteaks and Philly sports)
Maybe people think that all anyone who lives in Philadelphia maintains a steady cheesesteak diet. Well, people, you are mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a delicious cheesesteak or two in my time but they hardly define this great city. In fact, I could come up with a list of delicious things to eat in the city of Philadelphia that WOULD NOT include eating a cheesesteak.
So, please, PLEASE try to paint a picture of this wonderful, historic and beautiful city with something other than cheesesteaks.
Why are people so lazy when it comes to learning about Philadelphia?
These individuals, many of whom seem to have been granted hefty broadcast contracts, know 3 facts about this place and see no reason to broaden their knowledge base. Philadelphia is cheesesteaks, Rocky and booing Santa Claus. The end.
I can almost forgive the lay person with no contact with this city to know little else about it. However, if you're in broadcasting I would think that, at the very least, you'd want to have at least one other fact at your finger tips. You want to constantly make references to food somehow when talking about Philadelphia, its teams and it fans, you say? Let's pretend this is a multiple choice test. Pick one or more of the following items to use if you wish to still sound ignorant, but wish to switch up your stereotypical reinforcements of Philadelphia:
B) Soft pretzels
D) Water ice
You see? Even if you wish to stick with food items to express your total ignorance to everything this city encompasses, you can show a bit of regional savvy by switching up the cheesesteak references with other regionally known and loved delights.
When it comes to knowledge about the city of Philadelphia, people know about the Liberty Bell and the signing of the Constitution in this fine town. Then the knowledge fasts forwards to cheesesteaks, moving on to the booing of one Christmas icon, with a touch of tasing thrown in here or there.
Making cheesesteak references 9 times in one broadcast, as happened during Sunday night's Phillies - Mets game, is ridiculous. It's annoying and it's infuriating. Does bringing up the coronary inducing sandwich somehow enhance your game coverage? Does it make you seem witty? Not when you use it 9 times. This national affliction doesn't just impact baseball. Jon Gruden referenced waving cheesesteaks in the air during coverage of the NFL draft this weekend. So much messier than Pittsburgh's waving of the Terrible Towel.
Yes, he made this comparison. Who can make this up?
We can do better, America. The next time you want to reach and make a trite comment about Philadelphia to mask your overall ignorance about the city, take a leap of faith. Mention the Tastykake or the soft pretzel. Philadelphians will thank you.