DON'T YOU hate it when people who've never watched a sport become interested just because the home team is winning? Yeah, me, too.

The nerve of those guys. They go through their lives cheering for a totally different sport, and then, wham! They latch onto your sport when the home team starts doing well. Guys like that really make me sick, and now that the Flyers are in the Stanley Cup finals, I see those guys everywhere.

Where were they when times were tough? When the chips were down? When the sport was on the brink of extinction because a strike depleted its already thin fan base? Where were those guys when the die-hards were waiting 13 years for another shot at the brass ring? I'll tell you where at least one of them was hiding. He was in my house, on my couch, watching football instead of hockey.

That's right. I am that guy.

Over the past few weeks, while watching the Flyers' improbable playoff run, I have become the person I once despised. I am a bandwagon jumper, a fair-weather fan, that guy who comes to your house to watch the game and cheers for whoever's winning. I am a fraud, and I am ashamed.

However, my shame will not stop me from cheering for the Flyers when they face the Chicago Blackhawks for the right to hoist Lord Stanley's cup. Nor will it stop me from ambling into my friendly neighborhood sporting-goods store to buy a Flyers jersey. I will wear that jersey around Philadelphia while spouting various hockeyisms.

If LaVeta puts too much frosting on a cake, I'll roll into the kitchen wearing my jersey and a pair of in-line skates.

"That's two minutes for icing!" I'll scream while she looks at me as if I'm insane.

When my son climbs the neighbor's tree and knocks down a high branch, I'll show up in my jersey and a helmet.

"High sticking!" I'll yell, while blowing a whistle and pointing at his bedroom.

When he starts looking confused, I'll tell him his room is the penalty box, and as his dad, I'm pulling a power play.

I know I sound like a madman, but I have every right to be. I'm Flyered up, baby, and nothing's going to stop me from rolling with my new team!

Never mind the fact that I've never watched a complete hockey game in my life. I know my Flyers history. I remember when Bobby Clarke had no front teeth, when Bernie Parent wasn't doing hair-transplant commercials, and when Eric Lindros was supposed to be the franchise savior.

How do I know all this having never watched hockey? I'm a lifelong Philadelphian. I live here, I'm invested in this city, and so as long as the Flyers have the word Philadelphia in front of their name, I have as much right to cheer for them as anyone.

So what if I haven't seen an actual hockey game since Fox had a red streak following the puck? So what if I've never played roller hockey in the street? So what if I, like most rabid Philadelphia fans, have spent most of my life waiting for the Eagles to win a Super Bowl? I'm a hockey fan now and we're going all the way!

I've spent years preparing for this moment. I chipped my front teeth when I was a kid, just like my favorite hockey guys. I took French in high school, so I know how to pronounce Simon Gagne. I once hit someone with a really long stick, so I'm down with hockey violence.

Face it Philadelphia. I'm a Flyers fan now, so if you see me in North Philly rockin' a jersey and some Timberlands, don't call me out for the fraud I am. Just greet me with the red-hot catchphrase that's on every Philadelphian's lips these days: Go, Flyers!

Solomon Jones' column appears every Saturday. He can be reached at

Solomon Jones will teach a fiction workshop beginning at 12:50 p.m. today at Temple University, Ritter Hall, room 107, 1301 Cecil B. Moore Ave., as part of the Celebration of Black Writing.