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When Inferiority Complexes Collide

One of the things about professional sports that has long bothered The Curmudgeon is the artificial ways that athletes motivate themselves. Apparently lacking drive or suffering from a pretty serious sense of inferiority or absence of self-confidence, many seek external sources of motivation. In 2005, for example, when the New England Patriots played the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, a Philadelphia-area newspaper published the parade route the city of Philadelphia intended to use if the Eagles won. Large-scale events like championship parades need to be planned in advance; you can’t put something together like a championship parade in forty-eight hours. The coach of the New England team, though, seized on that story as a sign of his opponents’ disrespect for his team, as if the Eagles wrote the article or planned the parade, spoke passionately about it to his players, and posted it on his team’s locker room bulletin board so its message would fester in the brittle psyches of his players. Examples like this abound in the world of sports.

The real Underdog

Those same two teams met in this year’s Super Bowl and this time the Eagles won. The Eagles won three post-season games and in all of them they were underdogs – for very good reason: the Eagles had lost their best player, their quarterback, and his replacement, the back-up, was so bad during the last few weeks of the season that many of the fans wanted him to be replaced by a player whose entire experience as a professional football player consisted of less than one game. Even the team’s management acknowledged that if the back-up didn’t play well he might very well take a seat in favor of the inexperienced back-up of the back-up. The team therefore was an underdog for good reasons, and the players, lacking the self-motivation of most highly paid working people, seized on their entirely deserved underdog status as a personal insult and embraced it for all it was worth, even going so far as to purchase dog masks to wear during public appearances to reflect their status as underdogs. They did everything in their power, in fact, to lower the already-low expectations of them: a classic maneuver of those lacking confidence or suffering from feelings of inferiority.

How can you take a guy seriously when he’s dressed like this?

But the underdogs won, as sometimes happens, and at the end of the underdogs’ victory parade – another route that surely had been planned well in advance, although this time not leaked to the press – a Philadelphia player wearing a preposterous costume launched into a long, loud, and profane tirade about all of the slights that had been heaped upon him and his teammates and the organization for which he played. You can see it here, in all its glory. He made it clear that he and his teammates were highly motivated by all of these slights and that between this motivation and one of the sports world’s most ridiculous and overused clichés – “wanting it more” – they had overcome the obstacles and won the big game.

But the fans and the press absolutely ate it up. The player has been declared a hero – a player, it should be noted, who two years ago the fans and the press declared inadequate for the job he held and wanted dropped from the team, and in fact, the team looked hard for a replacement and probably kept him only because it couldn’t find one. Now he is the toast of the town.

The Curmudgeon, naturally, takes a contrary point of view: he found the speech to be even more pathetic than the manner in which the speaker’s teammates conducted themselves in the previous weeks. To him it was built upon a massive inferiority complex that plagued both the player and the team and should be pitied rather than applauded.

This is apparently how some grown men motivate themselves

Sad though this speech was, it couldn’t have been directed toward a more receptive audience because if there’s any place in the country that has a greater collective inferiority complex than Philadelphia, The Curmudgeon would love to know where that place is. Philadelphia sports fans expect their teams to lose, and to lose tragically. They believe the professional leagues in which their teams play don’t like their teams and don’t want them to succeed; they believe the people who broadcast the games are biased against their teams; and they believe the officials who oversee the games – the referees and umpires – intentionally render their judgments in ways that seek to hurt their team. The Eagles won the Super Bowl in large part because three very controversial decisions by the officials went their way. To The Curmudgeon’s eyes, one and possibly two of those calls were incorrect, but to Eagles fans any writer, any commentator, any broadcaster, any pundit who questioned any of those calls was not only wrong but had no right to that view and this was proof positive that they were biased against their team and hate their team and should shut up or risk getting punched in the nose.

These fans are, of course, sadly mistaken: the biases they see are non-existent.

This inferiority complex manifest itself in a most remarkable way last week, though, and The Curmudgeon is proud to say that, knowing his fellow Philadelphians as well as he does, he knew it was going to happen as soon as the observation that triggered it was made public.

Philadelphia, you see, has a long history of seriously overstating the number of people who participate in the sports parades that celebrate the city’s successful teams, and in the days before this year’s parade the popular prediction was that about two million people would attend the Eagles celebration. The Philadelphia police department, to its credit, refuses to play the guess-the-number game and makes a practice of not estimating crowd size, so the Philadelphia Inquirer sought an independent source for a crowd estimate, eventually settling on a team of crowd-safety experts at Manchester Metropolitan University, in England. That group used what seems like a reasonable methodology, calculating the space along the parade route, how much space an individual occupies, and helicopter photos that showed the density of the crowd and the actual physical space it occupied. The experts then concluded that somewhere in the neighborhood of 700,000 people attended the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl parade. They made it clear that there simply wasn’t enough space for as many people as some expected. Two million people? “You don’t have the real estate for this.”

700,000 is an awful lot of people. The city of Philadelphia itself has only 1.5 million residents and the eight-county Philadelphia area has a population of around six million, which means that more than ten percent of the region’s residents would have attended a 700,000-person gathering. That, The Curmudgeon believes, is pretty damn impressive.

But Philadelphians were furious: they rejected the estimate, insisted they knew better, and maintained that more than twice as many people attended – and they were off to the races, asserting that this underestimate was a gross injustice and yet another slight directed at them, their team, and their city.

The blowhard and his sidekick

The blowhard who hosts the most popular sports talk radio program in the region declared that 3.2 million people attended – the highest of all of the “expert” guesses. How did he know that?

“Because I was there,” he screamed at the top of his lungs on his radio program.

His sidekick, not to be outdone, brayed “Didn’t we declare our independence from the British more than 200 years ago?” and then added “Who asked them?”

Well, um, the Philadelphia Inquirer asked them, actually.

For more comment and outrage The Curmudgeon turned to one of his favorite source for outrage: the comments section on the Inquirer’s web site. Those comments have been more muted than usual in recent months since the Inquirer erected a pay wall on its site. If you want to read more than ten articles a month or comment on more than ten articles a month you now need to pay to use the site.

It turns out that the angriest Philadelphians also happen to be the cheapest Philadelphians because while the message boards haven’t exactly become genteel, the biggest idiots are now gone, the quantity of comments has declined significantly, and their sheer vituperativeness on a daily basis has diminished.

Some of the 700,000

But that still left plenty of paying wackos to offer their two cents worth.

This article is some BS You cant tell me there was less than 2 mil at that parade.. then using a metric system with Euro Grad students GTFOH!!


 Ah, that Philadelphia inferiority complex.

 These same estimators were telling you that Hillary had a 98% chance of winning

 Because everyone knows that public safety experts also do political polling on the side.

Are you out of your f’ing mind? A few students from a college in England made an estimate of the crowd by looking at video feeds. I’ve been to all Philly sports parades since the 1970s and this one was 2 million plus. The parade route was approximately 6 miles long and the 700,000 figure is correct for the area around the Art Museum only. I think I’ll wait for the official police report before believing any students from a foreign country who weren’t even there nor most likely never been to Philadelphia and know the lanscape! Too funny and stupid at the same time!

 Fake News..at least 1.5M


More of the 700,000

Yes, “fake news” is now deeply ingrained in our culture.

 Ya – there were more people than the Pope or the Million women march etc.. If you know Philly you know that count is way off. Double it!

Congrats, you have just wrote an article with FAKE NEWS!!! 700,000 is way low pal. You must be from New England.

 There were way more than 700,000 people. Way. More. I don’t know where this number was pulled from, or why you guys are using a number from a source in ENGLAND.

Because to at least some Americans, being British apparently means not knowing how to count.

 Even the crowd counters underestimated us. Underdogs forever!

 The inferiority complex resurfaces!

 Whoever these Brits are they should be fired. There were easily twice as many people as there were for the Phillies parade and that was estimated at 1 and a half million. Hell there were 700,000 before they got to City Hall.

 Like I am really going to believe Phd students from a country who can’t even negotiate Brexit properly.

Okay, at least this person has read something in a newspaper that wasn’t on the sports page.

This was the same country who fought the colonists by standing in a row with a big X on their coat, pointing their guns, right? Can’t count, can’t fight…

 These Brits and their metric system. Crap like this is why we started throwing their tea in the river. Go Birds

 Sounds like the same company that did this crowd attendance research did the polls that told us all Hillary would easily defeat Trump. Meanwhile, in reality, Trump is your president and there were probably 2 or 3 million people there today.

Knowing good click bait when they see it, the folks at the Inquirer returned to the subject two days later with an article titled

Eagles’ parade crowd estimate riles disbelieving fans

Like its predecessor, this article offered a scientific/mathematical basis for the estimate using different experts – including local people.

The masses were unmoved – and not at all shy about saying so.

 That British group is still reeling from Brexit. They didn’t get that right either.

 Bigger than Phillies 2008 parade so at least 2 million. 700K is laughable. fake news.

 Of course: basing a complaint on another inflated count makes all the sense in the world.

 FAKE NEWS! if it was the Democratic Convention the Philly Inquirer would have hired someone to estimate the crowd at 3 million, but because its the Blue Collar Philadelphia Eagles the Philly Inquirer wants to shoot it down to 700,000… the Philly Inquirer uses the same fake polls that picked Hillary to win.

 I think that there are editors at Philly.com who promote negative Philadelphia stories as the truth is anger and hatred create more clicks and responses than do positive stories. That is what sells. That is also the human condition. The Russians used this tactic against American voters and it works. Hate sells. I think that they prematurely grabbed this 700K estimate because it creates negativity. The sad truth is their negative efforts ultimately hurt the city and ultimately Philly.com

 The 700k estimate is turning into a national embarrassment because other media is running with it. Philly-dot-com ought to be ashamed.

And there you have it: fear that others will see “only” nearly three quarters of a million celebrants as a sign that Philadelphia doesn’t love its team and view Philadelphia and its fans as inferior.

 After all this, why do outside media, people, agencies, etc. still DOUBT us. If we say there were 3 million people, there were 3 million people there….Wooooooooohhh!

 Just for comparison, how do the Manchester boys estimate the Cubs crowd in Chicago, widely reported as 5 million? That’s just not consistent with a 700,000 number.

An observation that ignores first, that the popular Chicago number is probably as inflated as the Philadelphia number, and second, that Chicago has nearly twice as many residents as Philadelphia and its metropolitan area has a population more than 50 percent greater than the Philadelphia area.

The collision of the inferiority complexes of professional athletes and Philadelphia sports fans certainly made for a combustible situation last week – but a fun one for observers like The Curmudgeon.