After 26 years, the Wing Bowl is gone. It's not my job to judge it, and it's certainly gotten diverse reviews. But no one can say this whim-turned-spectacle did not arouse and direct a ton of, er, male energy. Every year, for more than two decades, some 20,000 mostly young, mostly rowdy, maybe drunk, and (mostly) harmless men skipped work on the Friday before the Super Bowl to watch people compete over chicken wings.
And, um, to watch a few other things, too.
Wing Bowl's Dr. Frankenstein, WIP sports talker Angelo Cataldi, hath given the word: The Birds have won the big one, and the original need for the Wing Bowl has vanished.
My hunch, though, is that about 20,000 guys are going to wake up on the Friday before the Super Bowl asking, "Now what?"
Here's what: It's time for a change in the home of the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. You cannot walk three blocks, even along our poshest downtown streets, without seeing someone desperate.
Let's do something. Instead of Wing Bowl, let's turn all that testosterone into action for Philadelphians who need help. (But let's call it something less square-sounding than a Day of Service, OK?)
Let's have some (maybe even all) of the 20,000 guys who used to take part in the Wing Bowl jump into something that lasts longer than a hangover or heartburn, that shows a man can get excited about Brotherly Love, not just wings and breasts. Here's an opportunity for men to do something different, in an era where we men are being strongly advised that many of our old tricks are no longer quite so amusing.
WIP should use the style and the tactics it has deployed each year to get so many dudes excited and off the sofa. Keep food front and center, like at the Wing Bowl. But instead of seeing how many wings one person can scarf down, let's discover how many people each one of us can feed, and clothe, and connect to the help they need. Let the Wing Bowlers know that we can all be first responders if we look right outside our doors. Kick it off with a massive get-together like the Wing Bowl.
There could even be a competitive element to helping people — but I will leave it to the marketing mahoffs at WIP to figure that one out.
So here are my asks:
To Mr. Cataldi: You led 20,000 boys and men – the equivalent of two U.S. Army divisions – into the Wing Bowl for Januarys going back many years. Can you have your men assemble this January, to fight for Philadelphia?
Since your calendar's cleared of Wing Bowl XXVII meetings, may I also suggest you use that time to strategize with some experts who can direct your army in its noble new mission: Sister Mary Scullion of Project HOME; Mayors Jim Kenney, Michael Nutter, and Ed Rendell; foodies Marc Vetri, Jose Garces, and Todd Carmichael; bike-messenger-turned-City-Council-hopeful Joe Cox, who uses pedal power to get food right to the corners where it's needed; Brian Roberts of Comcast; and last but not least, the Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins and Carson Wentz.
They may call you crazy, but remind them you invented Wing Bowl.