Every time there’s a major sporting event we see the Kübler-Ross model in action. These are the five stages of grieving, which outline how humans handle intense loss and sadness. You’ve seen them before. Bargaining, anger, acceptance — all that jazz.
There was a chance Philadelphia would join the throngs of fans who have taken these steps in coping with a Super Bowl loss, but instead the underdogs prevailed. We don’t have a model for how people deal with success, because frankly there isn’t a need for one — but Philly gave us its own version of the slow descent into jubilant madness as streets burned, grease failed, and fans risked their lives to out-fan everyone else.
The Eagles were always going to win their own way, odds be damned — and by extension Philadelphia was going to do its own thing in victory, because Philly will never be compared to anyone else. The city will go bigger, and harder, and with more bravado than other places could manage.
In doing so, they gave us “The Seven Stages of Philly Celebrating.”
The first reaction is disbelief. In this stage, individuals are stunned and unable to react — before eventually realizing that the Eagles actually won.
KAT update: “I’ve never been so happy!” pic.twitter.com/3DzzatRMoH— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 5, 2018
Shock is a common side effect of Stage 1. Fans — frozen in the reality they’ve just witnessed something for the first time — are often lost for words. It’s a rare sight for someone from Philadelphia.
Happiness begins to creep in, allowing the fan to move to Stage 2.
When the individual recognizes that the Eagles won, they become jubilant. Often in close proximity to other people, and even children. Common phrases are: “I can’t believe the Eagles just fu**ing won!” and “Fu** yeah, Eagles!”
i can't stop watching kobe's reaction to the eagles winning the super bowl pic.twitter.com/3uOKHc0NS9— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) February 5, 2018
Upon acceptance that the Eagles actually won the Super Bowl, the individual might find themselves unable to adhere to traditional social morals when it comes to language. They find themselves letting their guard down, and slipping into what experts call “potty mouth,” because in that moment no other words will do.
While in this stage, it’s important that fans are not corrected or asked to stop swearing — lest the process revert to Stage 1. It’s critical that the Eagles fan is allowed to swear, because this is in the DNA of any Philadelphia sports fan.
The third stage involves the individual trying to find other like-minded people to share the experience with. This is often in a small, family based gathering, but can also manifest itself in large city-wide parties that extend long into the night.
"We are the champions!" - Eagles fans pic.twitter.com/vUpNPCdXwB— SB Nation (@SBNation) February 5, 2018
Celebration is an important rite of passage. It can manifest itself in happy marching, as seen above, or by denigrating the opposing, defeated team over. In this stage nothing an opposing team has done warrants any praise or kudos, and it’s here you’ll often see fans revert to Stage 2 in order to say “Fu** Tom Brady!” or “Fu** the Pats!”
The anger from the lead up to the game will not dissipate for several days, and is in direct proportion to how big of an underdog the Philadelphia team was.
During the fourth stage, the individual will try to “out-fan” those around them in peacock-like displays designed to show dominance. With inhibitions gone, the fan will risk life and limb to prove that their safety is nothing compared to an Eagles win.
Heady off a feeling of community, the individual will risk their safe-being believing their newfound friends will be there to catch them, should they fall off something very high. This faith is often rewarded, but sometime misplaced — leading to injury.
The Philadelphia native hurt in this way is not disappointed with the outcome either way, because the Eagles won and “that time I cracked my skull on the pavement” makes for an excellent story.
5. Poop eating.
In this stage, individuals embrace their mortality and revert into a primal state, desirous of fiber wherever it comes from. Typically unacceptable social behavior becomes normal, and the poop eater is often praised by their ilk.
No....don’t eat the horse shit...don’t do it.....YOU ARE BETTER THAN TH...oh no pic.twitter.com/NfyES9sjp0— Laces Out (@LacesOutShow) February 5, 2018
Often seen as a sub-stage, the fifth step is not walked by everyone. It’s a conditional state largely dependent on how successful the individual was in Stage 4.
If the individual was not able to successfully risk their life, they will find ways to participate in the rite of passage — even if that means eating horse excrement.
Seeking respite, the individual will attempt to refuel their body and soul with a conveyance of snack treats and, needs willing, more libations to imbibe.
A corner Wawa is much like a watering hole to the native Philadelphian. In moments of need its neon sign is a siren’s call to the exhausted celebrator, offering a bevy of conveniences.
The Wawa is a sacred institution and not to be overlooked. Easily brushed off by outsiders, the Philadelphian knows it’s the greatest convenience store on the planet. They are often willing to defend Wawa’s honor with a fervor typically reserved for family members, or the Eagles.
The individual has reached the end of its journey, and begins to look ahead to the future possibility of spawning to create more Eagles fans — who hopefully will go through these stages themselves one day.
An Eagles win proves that anything is possible, and the individual — full of excitement and hope — is willing to share their life of joy with another. It’s critical in this step that one of the two people is holding a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor to christen their love, and prove that no matter how wide the streets are, or how many ACLs are torn, that their belief in the Eagles (and each other) will get them through the tough times.