Red October 2022

Get on the bandwagon: A Philadelphia sports fan starter glossary

If you’re going to hop on, here’s what you need to know.

Gritty and the Phanatic dance during a Phillies game

Gritty and the Phanatic dance during a Phillies game

Laurence Kesterson / AP Photo
lizzymclellanravitch-headshot

For the first time in Philadelphia history, the city has five professional sports teams in action all at once.

It’s an impressive feat — it’s only happened a handful of times across the U.S. — and an especially energizing moment for fans of the Eagles (football), Phillies (baseball), Flyers (hockey), 76ers (basketball) and Union (soccer).

If the words in parentheses above were helpful to you, you’re in the right place. Read on for a crash course in Philly sports lingo.

The basics

Go Birds

Literally, a shortened version of Go Eagles. But in Philadelphia and the surrounding region, it’s also a general gesture of goodwill.

Especially during football season, “Go Birds” can mean hello, goodbye, thank you, and more. It’s a way to concisely acknowledge that you’re in the presence of a fellow Philadelphia fan and show appreciation for your common bond.

Go Phils

Phils is simply a shorter version of Phillies, our city’s baseball team.

Sure, you can say Go Phillies — if you want to look like a noob. A nonchalant “Go Phils,” however, will carry more meaning, communicating to the people around you that you have spent more than five minutes in the City of Brotherly Love and you’re not simply pandering or bandwagoning.

While not as ubiquitous outside the baseball context as “Go Birds” is outside the football context, “Go Phils” a perfectly welcome greeting among Philadelphians, particularly during a Red October.

Red October

When the Phillies make it to the playoffs, we have ourselves a Red October — the team color is red. And the playoffs take place in October.

Flyered up

Excited about the Philadelphia Flyers, our hockey team.

Sons of Ben

Supporters of the Philadelphia Union. As is common in the soccer (er, football?) supporter community, they’re organized and welcoming.

Swoop, Phanatic, Gritty, Franklin, Phang

These are the mascots for Philadelphia’s five professional sports teams.

  • Eagles: Swoop. Unsurprisingly, an eagle. He was born in Neshaminy State Park and likes to eat smaller birds — like Cardinals, Falcons, Ravens and Seahawks — as well as cheesesteaks and soft pretzels.
  • Phillies: the Phanatic. A bright green, two-legged creature born in the Galapagos Islands, which likely descended from an anteater. The Phanatic had a slight makeover in recent years due to a legal dispute, but returned in full glory at the beginning of this season.
  • Flyers: Gritty. Unveiled in 2018, this orange creature’s origin story is that he was found under the bleachers of Wells Fargo Center. He’s a massive monster with crazy eyes, or, as Bleacher Report once described, “drunk uncle come to life in muppet form.”
  • 76ers: Franklin. This fuzzy, blue dog was created by children. And it turns out he was present at every major event in Philadelphia history. (He also replaced the team’s love-it-or-hate-it former mascot that was a bunny named Hip Hop.)
  • Union: Phang. A soccer-playing blue racer snake born on the banks of the Delaware River. His great-great-great-great-great grandfather was depicted on the “Join or Die” cartoon created by Ben Franklin, which inspired the Union’s flag.’
Eagles center Jason Kelce on field with the Phillie Phanatic before NLCS Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park

Eagles center Jason Kelce on field with the Phillie Phanatic before NLCS Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park

Twitter / @freddie9583

What you’ll hear at a game

Booooo

This is what Philadelphia fans tend to shout at their own team when they’re not playing well — in any sport. Don’t like it? Then play better.

Ring the bell!

A victory motto for the Phillies. This refers to the giant Liberty Bell at Citizens Bank Park, which lights up and swings back and forth after every Phillies home run and win. It got a pretty snazzy revamp this year.

E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!

Probably speaks for itself, but don’t be surprised if you hear it in odd locations, like on a bus or in line for the DMV or coming out of a toddler’s mouth. If someone starts with the first two letters of the chant, expect everyone else to chime in.

Shoot!

A common chant by Flyers fans while their team is in the offensive zone — why pass when you can score? One dogged Flyers blogger actually ran the numbers and found that this seems to result in more shots on goal.

Doop!

A nickname for the song that plays every time the Union scores a goal. The actual song is “Maria (I Like It Loud)” by Scooter. The best way for a human to recreate the techno beats of the song is to repeat “doop” to the melody. The Flyers also borrowed this bop for a minute, but in Philly it really belongs to the Union.

A schematic of the Eagles' Super Bowl-winning Philly Special play on a beer truck

A schematic of the Eagles' Super Bowl-winning Philly Special play on a beer truck

Eclipse Fleet Service / Facebook

Moments in Philly Sports History

Philly Special/Philly Philly

A trick play executed in Super Bowl LII by players Corey Clement, Trey Burton, and Nick Foles, which helped the team get its first ever Super Bowl win. While none of these three players are still in Philadelphia, this legendary play is still referenced frequently. For instance, current Eagles Jason Kelce, Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson recently announced their forthcoming holiday album, “A Philly Special Christmas.”

The Fightins. Said!

Literal meaning: We are discussing the Philadelphia Phillies, who are doing great.

This particular turn of phrase started with superfan Jack Varnis, who went viral for his spot on Fox 29 a decade ago, the last time the Phillies were in the playoffs. His full statement: “I am stoked, Steve! I am stoked, baby! We’re talkin’ about the Fightins here. The Fightins! Said! Said!”

‘Talking about practice’

This catchphrase was coined by beloved Philadelphia 76er Allen Iverson after a particularly disappointing 2001-2002 season, which ended with a loss to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

Iverson, an NBA Hall of Famer and beloved for over a decade, was famous for his spotty attendance at practice, and the topic came up at a news conference at the end of that dud of a season.

In his answer, an exasperated Iverson went on a rant in which he used the word “practice” 22 times.

“We sitting in here — I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen: We talking about practice. Not a game. Not a game. Not a game. We talking about practice. Not a game. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game. We talking about practice, man.”

Trust the Process

A motto, mantra and rallying cry for the Philadelphia 76ers. It was borne out of a strategy used by GM Sam Hinkie, who wanted to build a team of top talent over the course of a few years. This meant trading away some good players who could be exchanged for more draft picks and tanking the team’s record so they would also get a more favorable spot in the draft.

The Process also became a nickname for Joel Embiid, who was a key element in the strategy and even became part of the tanking when the team chose to rest him for as long as possible after an injury — not just to get him healthy, but to make losing easier.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid

Embiid: Carlos Osorio / AP Photo; Skyline: Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Will they stick? Some 2022 fun

‘Dancing on my own’

The newly-crowned Phillies’ victory song, fully embraced by the team and the city in celebration of Philadelphia baseball’s first appearance in the MLB playoffs since 2011. The team loves the Tiesto remix of Calum Scott’s cover of Robyn’s 2013 millennial anthem.

Batman

You might be wondering why wide receiver A.J. Brown was wearing a Batman cape on the sidelines after the team’s big win against the Washington Commanders in September. It’s a joke borne out of a playful — and, frankly, adorable — runner from cornerback Darius Slay.

“No Robins. We’ve got no sidekicks,” he told reporters after the team’s second game and second win, against the Minnesota Vikings. “We’ve got nothing but Batmans.”

He went on to label them: DeVonta Smith as “skinny Batman,” Brown as “swole Batman” and Quez Watkins as “fast Batman.”

Jason Kelce wanted in on the fun too, insisting that he get to be “Fat Batman” — though Slay thinks he would be better known as “Sexy Batman.”

The Torts effect

The Flyers got their 23rd coach in franchise history during the offseason, John Tortorella. He’s got a great record, and is known for demanding a lot of his team, so some fans hope he’ll breathe new life into a struggling franchise. They opened the season with three wins.

Fear the Beard

This refers to James Harden, the shooting guard who brought his immense talent and formidable shrub of facial hair to the Sixers last season. He was known as The Beard before he came to Philly, inspiring the slogan. He doubled down on this aspect of his personal brand this year, just weeks after his move to Philadelphia, becoming an investor in The Beard Club.

Want some more? Explore other Red October 2022 stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?