Shadi Hamid's Now Deleted Tweet Shaming Philly Football Fans Is a Reminder to Let People Enjoy Things
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Shadi Hamid is an author, a senior fellow at Brookings Institute, and a contributor to The Atlantic. On Sunday, ahead of the NFL Conference Championship games he took to Twitter to compose a now-deleted tweet, shaming fans in Philly for wearing football jerseys publicly, and getting excited for a game that he characterized as an over-simplification.

Hamid writes:

“I’m in Philly and a lot of people are wearing Eagles jerseys and maybe I’m a curmudgeon but the idea of (publicly) wearing a jersey and orienting your whole day around getting excited about a game where people run into each other with helmets is vaguely annoying.”

There’s so much wrong with that; I am not sure where to start. First, by thanking the Twitter user for grabbing the screenshot. Next, with the idea that apparently jerseys are so embarrassing they shouldn’t be worn publicly, even on game day. If you buy somebody’s jersey, which is not inexpensive, it means that you like the player. It’s hardly social faux pus to signal that there is somebody else in the world that you actually like and support.

“Orienting your whole day around getting excited” is also not an idea worth condemning. I’m excited for other people when they have things that they enjoy. Are you a video gamer? Cool, I support you. Do you watch makeup tutorials and follow beauty blogger drama? Neat, give me a mascara recommendation. Are you training your dog to be a competitive jumper? Wow, that’s amazing, go for it!

There is little more concerning than when adults wake up in a world of monotony and can’t find a single thing that brings them an ounce of happiness, and have nothing to look forward to. That’s what I do not wish for others. So, I don’t care how trivial your pastime might seem, I’m just happy that you found a way to be happy. 

I sensed aspects of elitism in Hamid’s tweet, first, the word “curmudgeon” is not how your average working-class football fan would say it. I would say that you’re a stick in the mud, maybe a party pooper, or a “Karen.” But, if you’re a cut above the Philly footballers then you use words with frill. There is an implication with the way the sport was described as “running into each other with helmets”, a very archaic descriptor that illustrates it as a game for cavemen, without any intellectual skills required. Except, knowing the rules is pretty important. If Hamid had ever brushed up on the topic he might know that “running into each other with helmets” sounds like illegal use of the helmet in the NFL, a foul that would result in the loss of 15 yards. 

But, I digress. I think the worst aspect of Hamid’s low level-take on Philly football fans, or any sports fans, is that not long ago the nation saw that at the heart of the sport was a sense of community. The humanity of NFL clubs, players, and fans was on display in the wake of Buffalo Bills’ player Damar Hamlin’s near-death cardiac event during a Monday night football game. 

As for blatant hypocrisy, we can see that Hamid did not have the same opinion of Croatia’s soccer “enthusiasts”, which he compared to a “communal religious experience”.

Maybe Hamid had a change of heart and will sit with the locals and enjoy a few hours of camaraderie on a Sunday. But if not, I’ve heard about enough criticism for audiences that spend a few hours of their weekend, for just part of the year, spectating something they enjoy.

I grew up watching football with my dad. The jersey I will be wearing, yes publicly, was a gift from him. A gift that arrives every birthday. And, every year I cherish that tradition and gesture and try to push away the thoughts that one year, I’ll unknowingly open the last birthday box.

So, stop taking things from people. Let us have our day. Yes, it’s kind of silly– that’s called reprieve. 

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