Eagles Super Bowl? The psychological implications of a Philadelphia championship run
How are Eagles fans handling their favorite team's recent success? We asked a sports psychologist.
It's been passed on from generation to generation of Philadelphia sports fans: don't get your hopes up.
From the Phillies collapse of 1964, to the lean times of the 1970s, to the early 2000s Eagles' failures to win a Super Bowl all the way to the beginning of the Sixers' painful rebuilding process — fans of Philadelphia teams know not to expect too much.
According to renowned Sports psychologist Joel Fish, director of The Center of Sports Psychology in Philadelphia, that's not healthy.
"You have grandparents who have taught their kids and grandkids," Fish, who has worked with players on all four major teams in the city for the past 25 years, told Metro. "There is a unique four generation history when it comes to the Eagles, where one generation passes beliefs on to the next. It gets passed down that we have to be cautious in our expectations. If your younger you're more likely top be optimistic. Having said that, being raised in this town is learning this history."
The 8-1 Eagles, according to Las Vegas, have a 1-in-5 chance of winning the Super Bowl. They have the best record in football and have all but assured a berth to the playoffs. Any other fan base would be pumping the optimism through every facet of their lives — watching the best team in the NFL win week after week. But not Philadelphia.
This city has never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, and anyone remembering a football championship parade (the most recent was 1960) is collecting social security checks.
"If you look at the progression of fan behavior it's uniquely Philadelphian based on our history of having been let down before," Fish said.
But with seven consecutive wins in the Eagles column, things are becoming too good to deny. And many are finally allowing themselves to enjoy the potential success.
"We reached a new juncture after this last Denver victory and you've got more and more fans allowing themselves to get out of their comfort zone," Fish said. "There is a new phenomenon — you have fans now daring to think too far ahead and some see this team as a team of destiny. Look at what has happened with [suspended Cowboys RB] Ezekiel Elliott and [Injured Packers QB] Aaron Rodgers. For the first time with the bye week a higher percentage of fans are allowing themselves to use the word Super Bowl."
It isn't hard to understand the reason for cautiousness from a fan perspective. The more someone gets their hopes up the more they can be dashed. But from a psychological perspective, a city winning a major sports championship has an incredibly beneficial social and mental impact.
"The Eagles present an opportunity here for us to learn as a fan base to embrace specialness," Fish said. "How to enjoy the moment, how to dream, how to unite and just help each other to appreciate what we have. I think we have this history, but let's embrace opportunity. To develop a new part of out own collective personality. The beauty of sport and the beauty of being a fan is to be able to ride the wave when you have the opportunity to do it. We are pretty seasoned as fans to react when things aren't going our way."